My wife, Lesley, and I met at a party when we were quite young. We took to each other right away and started an on-again, off-again relationship that eventually led to marriage. I had a good career going. We had a nice family home, and three lovely children came along. It sounds as if my next words might be, "We all lived happily ever after," but that's not quite how it worked out.

In the late 1970s, when our kids were about twelve, ten, and six years old, my employer offered to transfer me from Australia to work in Southeast Asia, based in Hong Kong. I considered this promotion a most attractive challenge. The family discussed the move, but it all happened so fast—the offer came right before Christmas, and within a very few weeks I was in Hong Kong. Lesley and the children joined me a few weeks later. Exciting times! (For me, anyway.)

I was happy to be traveling a lot, meeting new people from different cultures, addressing new business problems, and generally being treated like a VIP wherever I went. Looking back, I realize that, in fact, that lifestyle had engendered in me a strain of arrogance that could not have been appealing to my wife. Further, because everything was "business first," I was almost completely caught up in materialism—the purpose was always to make a profit, no matter what. I was popular with the distribution companies I worked with because I was absolutely on their wavelength, despite the cultural differences—differences I found most attractive.

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A young mother quits smoking—FOR GOOD
May 24, 2004

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