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Canberra Today 6°/7° | Friday, July 1, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Knowing where you’re going is the best destination

We’re alone now? Tiffany (left) thinks so, but Whitney’s bringing back memories of dancing in car parks with idiots in 1985.

“Kindness is not always giving people what they ask for, its caring enough to take the time and ask what they want it for,” writes “Kindness” columnist ANTONIO DI DIO.

JUST like the breakfast menu at a fancy bushland health retreat, your 1980s Pop Diva Spotify playlist may be a mystery, but you know it will be very good for you. 

Dr Antonio Di Dio.

Right now, the memorable Tiffany is repetitively telling me she thinks we’re alone now, quite unnecessarily adding that she thinks there doesn’t seem to be anyone else around. The music is thumping and the trip to Mugga Lane tip seems a lot more fun. Thanks Spotify for making these decisions for me.

Reminds me of one of my heroes in that hair-sprayed decade, my second mum, the tyrant of Maroubra, Elizabeth Kowalski. She would lovingly berate her GP – “Don’t give me choices, you sweet boy. Tell me what to do. I trust you to get me to where I need to be. What do you think I’m paying you for, you big schlemiel!”

That wonderful woman, of course, knew the secret to getting places – she knew where she wanted to get to! Unlike my wife and I on our first visit to the financial planner. 

When she asked us where we wanted to be spiritually and emotionally in 10 years’ time, I had to hold my wife back from assailing her with an Excel spreadsheet. 

“What’s this pop psychology guff?” she asked, pummelling her until-recently intact ribs. “Just tell us what the guaranteed loss is on these ostrich farms.”

Cookie the Financial Planning Psychologist and Personal Life Guide explains it best. He reckons his clients need him for the first 35 years to plan their holidays and kids schools, sports and weddings for them because his role is to get them Where They Want To Be. 

Do they need a thousand in the bank or a million? Do they need to get to Dubbo or the Danube? Planning is a vehicle to get to a destination, but you need to know your destination. Of course, if it takes an hour to get that sentence out of him over some swanky lunch a little fancier than what I’m getting on my way to the tip, you’ll still probably end up a fair way in front.

My job is getting people to where they want to be. 

“I Want the diet pill script now,” says Andrew. “I want the testosterone,” says Len. Sigh, says I, just wanting to have fun with Cyndi Lauper. Or maybe a holiday with Madonna. 

Andrew, do you want the diet pills for the belching, the insomnia and the small but real risk of permanent, maybe fatal, side effects? Len, would you like some cancer with the improved wedding-tackle performance? 

I sit Andrew down and ask WHY he wants the diet pills but I already know. He thinks they will make him more attractive to his wife. But I know her well, and she loves his shape. She just wants to see more of it, and maybe he could stop working every evening and weekend. 

My profession has some people in it who just prescribe the pill. Their consultations are a lot quicker and nobody whacks them with an Excel file. The trick is to channel Mrs Kowalski and find out why they want the pill. What is their desired destination? 

Kindness is not always giving people what they ask for, it’s caring enough to take the time and ask what they want it for. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious that a particular requested vehicle has a fairly specific destination (mum, can I have money for Pokemon cards… or a gaming computer… or that doctor’s appointment about contraception) but at other times the inquiry is needed. Almost always when we are tired.

Eighties Diva list has taken me to Whitney Houston, who has trumped Tiffany’s observation with a fairly firm assertion that she will always love me ooo, ooo and furthermore, ooo. This has not only led to wonderful memories of dancing in car parks with idiots in 1985, but the last hour furiously WhatsApping and arranging meetings and laughing out loud with the same idiots (in whom some unkind observers may identify a desperate need for diet pills and testosterone) as we lay down new experiences of love and laughter. 

Thanks Spotify – you really do know what I want! Now, where is that patronising man in the eco-tracksuit with the organic bran flakes? Let’s see how hard I can whack him with a spreadsheet!

Antonio Di Dio is a local GP, medical leader and nerd. There’s more of his “Kindness” on

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