Fred Hollows in his updated biography with Peter Corris in response to a question from Caroline Jones, an ABC radio presenter, recalled a moment in his life when he’d been brought up short, to take stock and consider his priorities.
He was in Chihuahua, Mexico, suffering from a torn muscle in his leg. He didn’t know what it was – the slightly comic gait he had to adopt, the wholly exotic location with all the remains of Mayan civilisation decaying around him, or the occasional stabs of pain, but he had a sudden insight into the nature of things as far as Fred Hollows was concerned.
The enlightenment was two-pronged.
Firstly, he realised that it didn’t matter if he didn’t publish anymore scientific papers as he had already made a respectable contribution to ophthalmology and he didn’t need to feel threatened from that direction.
Secondly, he perceived with great clarity that it was against his nature, and ultimately negative, for him to participate closely in academic and administrative politics. The upshot was that he decided not to attend meetings that he judged likely to be unproductive.
Ironically, while he never sought a high profile except to benefit the work he’d been doing, he found after putting this policy into place he became a much more well-known figure than before.
Fred‘s dream is now continued through the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation an international development organisation that focuses on blindness prevention and Australian indigenous health.
This account is a wonderful example of taking stock, considering our priorities and then acting responsibly in regard to the effective use of our time in our chosen vocation.