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Last week, one unstable man caused the deaths of two patrons in a Sydney, Martin Place café. For about eight years I worked in Sydney in an office located about 300 metres from Martin Place. I have consumed countless cups of coffee in Martin Place cafes over the years. I have never had anything close to even rudeness in any of those cafes over the years.

Last month a professional cricketer was hit on the head while batting in a first class cricket match. He died two days’ later. When I was eleven I was hit in the head by a cricket ball while batting against teenage boys. I was concussed but suffered no lasting damage.

Ten years ago next week, the Indian Ocean tsunami caused an estimated 230,000 deaths including 35,000 in Sri Lanka. Almost all of these Sri Lankan deaths occurred on the low lying west coat of the county. Five years previously I was honeymooning at a beach resort on the west coast of Sri Lanka just after Christmas. The weather was beautiful and calm and remained so for the whole of my stay.

When I was trekking in the Annapurna Dhaulagiri region (Nepal) in 1995, I was caught on an exposed ridge at high altitude when a storm suddenly struck. As I was making my way down the mountain lightning struck the ridge. The force of the impact was so immense I was thrown off my feet. The resulting headache caused me pain of an intensity that I have never come close to experiencing, before or since. Lightening is the number one cause of storm-related deaths in Australia.

Nearly twenty years ago, I spent the Christmas/New Year period in Byron Bay. I went SCUBA diving just off the coast. During one dive I encountered an underwater tombstone. At that location, two years earlier, a SCUBA diver was fatally attacked by a five metre shark. Fortunately, I didn’t see any sharks during any of my Byron Bay dives.

Seven years ago, my sister, Mary, gave birth to her second child; a perfect and healthy daughter, Lola. My sister lived a wonderful village life in rural England. She had a loving husband and two children. Mary was fit and healthy with much to look forward to in life, having just turned 40 a week before Lola’s birth. Last week Lola celebrated her birthday; her third now without her mother, who died of breast cancer shortly after Lola turned four.

Be grateful for everything you have rather than disillusioned or upset by what you don’t have.

Life is short. Life is precious. There are no guarantees.

Live each day in the knowledge that life is a gift that could be taken from you in an instant.

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Ian Hamilton

Ah yes, timely reminder Ross, thanks. Gratitude is something I know I can give more of and it is free. Merry Christmas.

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