Amidst the wreckage….

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T Boned

A couple of weeks ago, my truck (Eduardo) got T boned! A beautiful Tuesday morning it sure was shaping up to be because that is always my default choice every morning and then suddenly things went south – as I stood amidst the wreckage, thankful there were no injuries and listening to the T boner apologize, I realized that my perspective has changed. Some people wake up, pick up their car keys, get into their vehicles and go looking for an accident to cause – Scott profusely reiterated the almost pervasive fact that nobody gets on the freeway hoping to cause an accident. I mean I accepted his apologies but I kind of know a little more having lived more than he has that that is not entirely the case in today’s world – the creepy ones are coming out of the woodwork rather faster than people imagine. So, between juggling filing a claim, talking with the responding cop and trying to listen to the tow-truck driver advertise his business, my hands or more precisely my ears were literally full. Having worked law enforcement, the over-riding objective is not trying to understand the context of the law or see a different shade, the emphasis is on enforcing it so to cap it off, there was a citation of $235 as the cherry on the shake.

Now I really cannot do very well in regular vehicles, no thanks to dystonia and so even with the sturdiness of riding in a truck, it simply is also not impervious to damage. Two weeks after the incident, the auto adjuster politely called to ‘walk’ me through the process – a vehicle can only be totaled when the cost of repairs exceed 80% of the current value of the automobile. And so even though it was clearly pointed out to me at the dealership that Eduardo was totaled because the impact was so hard that he deployed all of his airbags, it took my polite auto-adjuster an extra week before he called to tell me that Eduardo was a total loss. Oh and that is where the erratic nature of insurance companies come with talons flashing, after ‘valuation’, I was left with about $10k between the current value of something similar to Eduardo and wherever the valuation company got their comps for. Talk about the frustration of trying to prevent more milk from spilling since you can do little or nothing about what has already been spilled. I took a crash course in dealing with automobile crashes so as not to lose the only leverage I had which was the remains of Eduardo. Thankfully, there are still good people even though sometimes it seems like I am literally in a scene of The Walking Dead and so after turning in the rental provided by the insurance company, I got a car to use whilst trying to absorb the reality of getting another set of wheels.

Now it is no news that I suffer from insomnia and so whenever the frequently asked question pops up, ‘why are you not sleeping?’, my response is biblical – “there is no rest for the wicked!” and so insomnia for me is kind of like an added responsibility because someone has to watch over the wicked. “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” and “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet. And its waters toss up refuse and mud.” Now I know God does not need me volunteering but it is my own way of seeing a pro for insomnia. Life undeterred continues, bringing in its wake, a more than fair share of turbulent seasons because just when it seems like my plate is too full to take anymore, I get blindsided by something that I think I am completely unprepared for however the beauty of life is in the fact that I alone get the singularly distinct option of choosing so I choose not to allow the demise of Eduardo become a stressor. I’m no newbie and statistically speaking, it takes an average of 4 years to earn a degree, I am in my 9th year with dystonia and myoclonus so that puts me more of a graduate consultant in the school of hard knocks.

Act Now!

With all this going on, I had the privilege of having my younger brother visit me, he chose to visit me (it has been about 5years since I last saw him) and so there was some cheer after all and having never seen me having a dystonic episode, I know we did have a wonderful time together. I actually for the first time since dystonia invaded my world, felt like I truly belonged to a family (one that I was born into without any cognizance to my view or option). He actually celebrated his birthday in my home and I may not authoritatively categorize sleeping on an air mattress and being woken up on his birthday with a chocolate garnish cake and the happy birthday song as being out of this world but then that’s where I have learned that we just need to do what we must do and let God handle the rest. I overheard him telling his incessant callers that that was probably the best birthday celebration he had ever had. A simple gesture from me meant a ton of joy to him! Now this is where I want to do a deep dive into some fundamental principles on which I try to live my life by.

“One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor.” Those are not my words in any way, that right there is truth without any fanfare – no glazing, no sprinklings, no whipped cream. What truly strikes me about this is that there is absolutely no mention of status, meaning that there is no further elaboration of who had more to give – it just speaks about 2 men and the choices they make and then the resultant consequence of their choices. Now another startling and somewhat scary truth is in the choice of the latter – he withheld what is right! At certain times, I come up with phrases that keep me going and this right here is one, “As long as God allows you see a need then it means that you are thoroughly equipped to do something about that need– Redz_CC. I try my hardest to make each day count for something and that means down to the moments of every day I live and so even though I have a couple of academic (&theological?) degrees to my name, it means squat when it comes to life and the privilege of encountering lives as we journey along. Sometimes I realize that simplicity can become overwhelmingly complex when we refuse to just accept the simple. We are all creatures of purpose – we identify, execute and then move on to the next task.

Whenever I see a need, I am with something that fits that need and if I choose to withhold it for a myriad of reasons (it could make a worthy post on its own), I am undercutting myself because borrowing a few words from Dido, ‘Nothing I have is truly mine!’ and so the question of to give or not to give should not arise because it spells it clear as day, poverty will overwhelm when I refuse to address a need because I am withholding what is right. Again, I want to be careful when I say withhold – money answers all things but money cannot get you joy, it can buy you praise singers but absolutely no friends, It can build you a mansion but it cannot give you the companionship that we all need as human beings – just one of the many billions inhabiting the earth. And so I ask myself what is the wiser option? Giving up what isn’t mine to gain what is mine or withholding what isn’t mine only to lose on all fronts, an academic degree is not needed to answer that. Whilst conversing with my brother, I told him that perception can be easy to make from afar but usually it is wrong, he got a ringside seat for that exhibition. An African proverb says, ‘that which you seek in distant lands is actually resting within the confines of your garment’ it just boils down to ignorance versus knowledge.

I dare you to remember this, “We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives…Some lessons are painful, some are painless…but all are priceless” – Knot Known

עד שניפגש שוב, מי ייתן וcountenace יזרח לטובה עליך!

Adios!

Changing Your Story…..

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Achieving Balance

Achieving Balance

To everything that exists (to the best of my little knowledge) there will always be pros and con, and to further emphasize this, one of my favorite quotes by Baruch Spinoza is, “No matter how thin you slice it (bread for instance), it will always have two sides” and so we are consistently being pitted against ourselves – our perceptions, our ideologies, our interpretations however regardless of how much we go against ourselves, the moral fabric will always stay true. Right and wrong; two extremes with a wide range between them and even if you can only see black or white, there will always be shades of grey in between. The beauty of life is best enhanced when we understand that there is a balance to everything and learning to apply that balance is a skill best sought.

One of the cons of coming from a fairly large family with two professionals in different careers as parents was their ability to adjust to situations even as we grew up. I recall being awoken most mornings with the lash of the cane (and even in retrospect, I can fairly say it was neither an expression of anger nor a transfer of aggression) but it did the trick – wiping away every vestige of sleep in an instant. I am who I am largely because despite the demands of their jobs, my parents instilled in us what many lack today – the power of believing in yourself. Lest I stray too far away from my ponderings, I want to share one of the daily discourses we had back then as children. Many thanks to ‘Just A Moment Please’ by J. Maurus – a compilation of articles by several intellectually distinct individuals.

….In a village somewhere in the Mediterranean, two young boys were caught stealing sheep (alas the huge amounts of delinquency resident in boys….) and as was the norm back then, the penalty for stealing was to be branded on the forehead (and I am referring to the steel rod and a really stoked fire). And so the story continues, these two friends and brothers had the letters ‘ST’ (abbreviated from Sheep Thief) branded on their foreheads. The shame and derision accompanying that is best left to your imagination however after a couple of years, one of the two brothers could no longer continue with the derision and cost of his choice and so with no fanfare at all, he gathered all his possessions and travelled to a distant city where nothing was known of him. Truth be told however is that in order to begin afresh, acknowledgement, admission and repentance are vital prerequisites. Suffice to say, that he never got his act together and died some years after and was buried as a John Doe.

The other brother however acknowledged that his own choice had led him down that path and therefore the least he could do was not to run away from himself but rather to pay the cost and seize the opportunity of righting his wrongs. Several decades later, now a bent frail man, he passed by a group of young kids playing and as expected, the young kids’ discussion turned to him. A couple of them asked the million-dollar question, ‘what on earth caused that old man to be branded on his forehead and what exactly do those two letters stand for?’ After several minutes spent contemplating, the oldest of the kids responded thus, ‘My grandparents told me the story long ago and I think the letters stand for Saint!’ ”

Changing Course

Changing Course

Till this moment, many variations of that tale are being re-enacted all over the world and it is undoubtedly not a subject of debate that none of us is immune to making wrong choice. We all do at some point in our lives, some make it a habit but the incontestable truth is that we are all victims of our own choices and therefore the architects of our own story. I dare say that all over today’s world despite the current chaos and mayhem, despite our circumstances or environment, the power to change our story does not reside in the hands of those in authority, it resides in our own hands. Permit me to say that it is easier said or written than actually done but it can be done. When we acknowledge the fleeting passage of time and the need to make our lives count for something other than nought then that in my opinion is a rather good starting point.

Kindly show me an individual who proclaims that he is perfect and I would reveal to you a man well versed in the art of spewing beguiling and untrue words. Yes, we are all works-in-progress however it would be more meaningful to seek the applause of Our Creator albeit in the minutest of kind and helpful gestures rather than seek the ever-vacillating applause of men. I strive to live by meaningful expressions because it is that it is better late than never and being selfish or self-centered makes for quite an uninteresting and tiny life (at the very core of that existence) and so I choose this day to be thankful for yet another opportunity to right a wrong, forgive another and be of help to someone struggling in a quagmire not necessarily of his own making. I may never check all the boxes on my to-do list, I may consistently battle against dystonia and its ilk, I may be knocked down much more than I would want however I choose to pick myself and wrought some well-deserved change in my little community.

Without an iota of doubt, nothing good comes easy (praying to the best of my knowledge has never been categorized as easy but the results of a fervent prayer will always achieve much), nonetheless I would rather end my days in aspiring to do good than stand by and do nothing. Be careful to contemplate these words: ‘Never give up.’ This is not SOUND advice; it is bad advice. You must give up when there is no point in continuing. Then begin a new course. There is no greater failure than not changing course when the time is right to do so.” – Chloe Thurlow

עד שדרכינו יחצו שוב, תנו לאהבתו ולעוצמתו להנחות אתכם!

Adios!

Let’s Begin Again…..

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Anew!

Never been to a real AA meeting however I know it begins with an introduction; name, your reason for attending and as much personal information you are willing to share with a bunch of complete strangers, who with time become a small part of what you may term friends. I choose to say that a very few would become a part of your family. I am an ordinary chap – going nigh on half a century chronologically however physically most days I’m more in the nigh on century milestone. I’m a hybrid which can be interpreted in a varying degree of ways depending on what perspective you look at it from. I wouldn’t say a peacock is my bird of choice although I’m a dog lover and not an avid bird watcher, so a Caucasian Ovcharka would therefore be my pick as my animal companion. I am a Christian with a definitely colorful life – having lived and worked in 4 continents playing a huge role in that. Temperamentally, I am a CholMel (Choleric and Melancholic in that order and mix) and I am living with dystonia and myoclonus – primary generalized dystonia to be a bit specific. I was officially diagnosed in 2011, which makes it at least 8 years with no vacation or holidays in between each day.

Statistics reveal that there are 3 million cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosed every year in the United States where I currently call home. Even with my stint in the navy more broadly, law enforcement, I don’t suffer from PTSD. I still have battles everyday although since Christianity isn’t a religion so it cannot be called an opioid, it’s rather the lifestyle I’ve chosen and live by. I tend to describe myself as a very good listener and like the philosophy that comes with life. I’ve been described as enigmatic, prickly skinned but with a beautiful heart – I guess the point is that my range of description depends on the level of relationship I have or had with you. My IQ is above 100 and I’m conventionally educated (spent about 19years doing that), still learning and teaching where and when its possible. I am heterosexual and pretty good at being and staying one. I love writing (and speaking, if asked to), pretty good at whatever I set as a goal, I still do have a fairly long to-do list which includes but isn’t limited to swimming with sharks, paragliding, parasailing and traveling to 3 more continents and Mars someday. I suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder but I control it much better not the other way round. I live with faith and hope and the awareness that life is a series of seasons.

Strewn along

I am quite imperfect and very much a Work-in-Progress, choosing to get up each day with a ‘Thank you!’ rather than ‘Why?’. I have a relatively skewed ratio of good and bad days, in recent times more of the latter which in no way influences my daily choice. I don’t have regrets even though quite a few of my also few friends have transited this earthly journey, their sojourn completed. Admittedly, it’s a really cold world we live in so I’d say the inevitable mudslinging and lemon chucking still hurts probably more now however I do clean up fairly okay. I have about 8 walking canes because I also suffer from intense vertigo and unpredictable bouts of pins and needles, and on the losing end of requiring to get a stroller which in relative terms for me sits a couple of steps above a wheelchair. My regimen of medication consists of a good amount of category C drugs and few Over-The-Counter medications which I lug around with me…….all translating into several discarded shoe boxes of empty pill bottles and a very upset asset of the pharmaceutical industry with an equally rather poor notion of the insurance industry. I know that people rather know how much you care, than care about how much you know.

I am very weary but still I must go on because how you run your race determines what price awaits you at the finish line. There’s nothing that can break a defiant and determined spirit except you give in to it and that’s what I hope to share more. There are no better helping hands better than those at the end of your arms and for my friends with no hands or arms, you still have what will propel you through the rather frequent desolate seasons. There’s no oasis better than that in God who created and created all things with the best quality control, and therein might be my message to myself. It’s not impudent to ask for help but the results are guaranteed when we ask Him because I know He knows what I’m going through and has made the appropriate resources for this sojourn of mine.

There are times when it feels like the end of the road for me, nothing more to give, still nothing more to gain however I know that it’s in those times that He’s closest to me and so even when even the melatonin refuses to work and my muscles constrict in agony, seeking for relief from an overly active brain firing away on all fronts, I still choose to say ‘Thank you Lord!’ rather than ‘Why me Lord?’. It’s in those moments like today that I remind myself with this quote, “I was given this life because I am strong enough to live it!”

עד שדרכינו יחצו שוב, תנו לאהבתו ולעוצמתו להנחות אתכם!

Adios!

Bent not broken….

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Beauty of Nature

Today is my birthday! And in line with the actual definition of the word, I was born on a Wednesday and notwithstanding the fact that I was born preemie, I choose to celebrate my birthday every week. In my journey here on earth, I have learned that it  is usually those life-transforming events that shape our character and influence our decisions. And so with this intolerable dystonia, I have learned that more often than not, the frequent insouciance I encounter is a direct expression of ignorance; ignorance in terms of knowledge and ignorance in terms of life’s purpose, while the natural reaction to ignorance can be scathing and harsh, there is still a choice to be made – React or Respond.

Considering the timeline that I have as a result of dystonia, it still amuses me that we still associate pedigree to what can be almost valued as worthless. I had the privilege of speaking at a meeting on what dystonia is (surprisingly it is still relatively unknown even as we wind down another decade in the 21st century!) and what really reminded me of why sharing our experiences is such a distinct honor, was the rapt attention of my audience and the fact that a few would leave with the knowledge to live as humans. The ability to tell ourselves the truth is something that can be trifled with, ending in irreparable sorrow however life is a platform of learning nonetheless as is the case with every academic setting, there will always be the hecklers and those who choose to be distracted.

“Where are you from?” is usually a question imbedded within the first five statements uttered by people to me. My origins? That in itself is a topic for another post however I always strive to comment on the fact that I have been at both extremes – abundance and lack, have had the privilege of living and working in four different continents but despite what many would exclaim in terms of sentiments, the nature of our living is still a continuing study for me. I remember the disaster of a hurricane and the desolate pictures of the aftermath and it is almost mind boggling to reconcile the before and after however what conveys the most poignant message is not in the destruction to property but the resilience of victims. Resilience that even though life chucks boulders at us, and we are utterly astonished at how bent over we are, under the crushing weight of these boulders but yet we can spring upright with the passage of time if we choose.

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Bent but Unbroken

Hooke’s theory of elasticity does not apply to the human being because like the supple trunk of a young acacia tree, you can bend it till its topmost leaves share the same dirt as its roots however when you let it go, it springs back because its growth is upwards. I can be seen as reticent when there is the heated discourse of how well life has treated us and then the popular game of comparison commences because I know that it takes wisdom for one to acknowledge that life has its seasons and thus prepare for the changes that accompany such seasonal changes. Unfortunately, asking for a helping hand is still largely construed as an opportunity to re-emphasize current economic and financial comfort, however I have learned that the act of bending down to an upstretched arm is also a check on your suppleness.

Even as I watch the huge strides taken by humanity through technology, there is a huge dearth in terms of carrying along all those virtues that make us human. I am bent over but definitely not broken, and the hope of that realization powers me through some really bleak days. With the frenzy of today’s living, we are wont to satisfy ourselves with fleeting glimpses as we rush through life and thus erroneously capture postures wrongly, seeing bent as broken. Alas even the broken can be fixed but when our change-over terminal looms ahead but we cling so passionately to the comfort of the moving train, how then do we ever expect to progress in life. I realize that habits formed can be difficult to break but it is a task that can be made easier when we admit that we are all works in progress and life is a journey; because when we acknowledge that life is a journey then we can understand that journeys mean progression.

There is no standing still and yes the view from the mountain top is so exhilarating and usually lulls one into a false sense of security but remember life and progression go together. The choice to build our fortress on the mountain top simply reveals our lack of understanding because what happens when we must go down to the valley; do we choose to stagnate and decay on the mountain top dulled into a false sense of reality or do we fall over and stay down preferring instead to be content with the diminishing memories of the past even as the present ticks away. There is no joy in the house of sorrow however there is ample opportunity to learn and be schooled for the events of the future. Just as the sun arises each day so must it set so that life can continue, and no matter how long the daylight lasts, the night when there is little or no light must precede it.

Borrowing the words of Albert Einstein, ‘Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’

פרידה עד שנפגשנו שוב בתזמון שלו, וייתכן שאהבתו של אלוהים להיות אמיתית לך!

Adios!

Not My Way…..

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Dystonia Awareness Month

Hey! We are down to the final third of the year and ironically September has been recognized in the US as Dystonia Awareness Month. What is Dystonia and why should there be an awareness? In no fancy words, it is simply acknowledging that there are more people in this world than you think you know. “Lord, give me the wisdom to differentiate between the things I can change and those i cannot change!” Dystonia falls in the latter category – dredging up words like neurological disease or disorder, rare and incurable, genetics, an overwhelming sense of helplessness, the ridicule of others who think less of you because you ask, the irony of life’s unfairness, the joy of knowing that you are never really alone, the sheer delight of knowing that there’s strength that lies beyond human frailty. That is Dystonia!

I thought I knew pain however the last two weeks have been an orientation in pain – the pain that cripples you and forces you to your knees, bouts upon bouts of excruciating pain, unpredictable and unrelenting as always. Pain that makes you long for the sweet transition from this cold, cold world. That is just an aspect of dystonia; the unwillingness of my body to cooperate with me, the knowledge that life as I thought I knew (and vainly planned for) suddenly transformed in an instant, the inexplicability of my helplessness and the beauty of knowing that despite how much sorrow surrounds me, there is joy not too far away. When the truth dawns that this is just a prelude to an eternity and how I live it regardless of my circumstances defines my destination. A destination that I so long for, and thus empowered by this, I must make each day that I yet draw breath count for something.

I have no regrets! None at all and if the chances were posed to me again, my answer would be, “I would change not a thing because change is inevitable!” It is not the chances we encounter that define us but rather the choices we make and today I make one as i painfully write this, I refuse to let Dystonia define me. Change my circumstances, strip me of my belongings but with fists clenched in pain, I defy you even with the last wisps of breath that i exhale. This has been truly a journey – an unprecedented one to say the least however one that has taught me so much that I know that even when I am knocked down, there is still strength to not just struggle to my feet but to also reach out and help another. It has been a journey that has redefined family, completely changed my perspective on living to love and revealed that none of us knows what strength we either possess or the vast reserves of strength that we have access to.

Love and Giving

This is a journey that has made so much more glaring the exploitative nature of man at his primal core and yet has also shown me that true love is not sought neither is kindness the result of scientific computation. I have learned that life is like the ocean with waves either forging or receding, that shoes are an adornment for feet that we take for granted most times. There will always be that friend who sticks closer than a brother and even at the detriment of his personal satisfaction, is willing to sacrifice just to ease my pain. There will always be those memories engrained forever of events that i would never have imagined – events of so much weight and value but yet thinly veiled by the indifference and nonchalance of many. I can show you my friends if you ask because I call them family, dystonia helping to rip off the veneer and expose the richness of hearts that beat true and strong, and also reveal in stark nudity the ignorance of hearts that are barely beating. I regret not by any whim the process of being constantly forged, every hammer strike at the forge shaping me despite the accompanying pain.

Today, I am grateful for a life lived – the inconvenience of dependency as it struggles with the history of a life surrounded by so much comfort but yet in total lack at the present. Today I celebrate you – for tolerating my ignorance, for keeping me company in times when words were not needed, for your shoulder to cry on but more importantly to lean on. For pressing through the brambles of an ego very brittle and of nought to me, for standing at my gate (respecting a privacy no longer of value) even though my walls are all but crumbling – a city whose beauty once was and will be to come in no short period. For patiently learning even when I thought I had nothing to teach and persevering in teaching me that I will never be alone despite my bullheadedness. For those nights you stayed up whilst I battled insomnia, offering up prayers that I was unaware of. And standing in the gap on my behalf, being a conduit for answers undeniably sent from heaven, I celebrate you. I am here because you cared, listened and did not disobey God’s instructions.

Tonight I am thankful that should the curtains drop, my footprints will be seen and my life’s tale a source of hope and encouragement. That is what I want you to be aware of – that I went down swinging albeit feebly, going by the standards of crowds that mean nothing but a cacophony of discordant noise. Even as the night all but envelopes me, I am thankful that my light wasn’t extinguished by the lazy whisper of a summer night’s breeze. Thank you for not thinking less of me. Thank you for sharing your own struggles even as we journeyed together regardless of how much or how little time we spent together. It will never be about the distance because as long as hearts beat, resonating with kindness and compassion, every second matters.

Remember that I did not do it my own way; could never have done it my own way, but with lives intertwined and paths crossed, mine is a story of triumph amidst the ruins! A tale that would be incomplete without you.

פרידה עד שנפגשנו שוב בתזמון שלו, וייתכן שאהבתו של אלוהים להיות אמיתית לך!

Adios!

When the Music Fades…..

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Fading Away…

Two days ago, my brother and friend committed the earthly remains of his wife to the ground. And it’s still a shock to me however that’s the fact, she who I asked after a week ago is no more and with a voice weary from pain and sorrow, my brother acquiesced that regardless of circumstances, we are strengthened by God. With God, there’s no limit to His Strength reserves however in times like these, I’m quickly reminded of how fleeting life is. Now, the future belongs to Ben and his little kids and moving forward isn’t an option but a choice to be made even amidst the grief and sorrow.

Being an ardent believer of faith, I cannot describe the deluge of emotions he’s going through however I can do something, and that’s be a friend and brother. We were not created to be in isolation however without a complete grasp of what our purposes are, we must trust Him who made us and keeps us grounded to things that though transient in nature they may be, yet the spiritual connotations are immense. The reality that is gradually being eroded in today’s world is that we have juxtaposed two parallel truths; we are spirit beings on a human journey and not human beings on a spiritual journey. Our destination determines and influences the choices we make because it does not require a degree in theology to acknowledge that to this life we live, there surely is an end and to every end a beginning. The question therefore is where and what are our priorities?

Having lived with dystonia myoclonus for nigh on a decade, my life’s journey has been nothing short of a roller coaster of miracles however still I press on disregarding what today’s circumstances are saying. Life is fleeting, measured in moments and therefore it is befitting that we use the temporal to secure the permanent. With each waking moment, I ask myself, “what if it is today?” and that I assure you greatly assists me in prioritizing. Be it in little gestures of kindness and compassion, a life is touched with joy and a journey continued with hope. I therefore find it rather bemusing when I see a need that has passed through lots of people but yet remain unchanged, and when it eventually grabs my attention, rather than pass it forward, I try to ensure that it doesn’t remain the same need when I received it.

What’s the wisdom in gathering what is temporal, intentionally ignoring the needs of those around us, only to leave it all for someone else – sometimes people we never knew. I’d opine that’s a question best asked and answered individually. Recently I marked a milestone in my life that many haven’t, and the amusing thing is that I wasn’t stressing myself out and so what a delight it was. A gift unexpected but really needed. To share something ongoing, we embarked on a funds drive for a school project and this necessitated soliciting for contributions. One remarkable thing I’ve learned on this dystonia journey is that life is as unpredictable as the weather. Yes, you can make forecasts but more often than not, the forecasts are not always spot on. I guess then that the unpredictability of man is something that should be no surprise to us however it really hurts when you get doors slammed in your face. It really is inconsequential whether the door was shut politely or slammed rudely, the truth is disappointment doesn’t really have a closet full of attires.

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It,s just a door.

Pretty certain these responses are not strange to many, “I’m sorry, I’m currently not in a position financially to help!” but the stranger thing was I got this response from 3 people who do not know each other, live on different continents and are almost at the peak of their professional careers. Was I upset? Definitely not, because I’ve learned that we (not me anymore) earn to make a living but we give to make a life and so for me, I always choose to make a life by giving from the transient accessories of my journey, no matter how scarce they may be. Just like attending a concert, we have let ourselves become so dialed in focusing on the performance that we often forget who is just by our side. No matter how long the concert lasts, there will be a time when the end is nigh and the music fades. After that, we must move on or remain trapped by choice at the wrong location doing the wrong thing.

The most inspiring people are not those measured by society’s definition of success but rather those who have consistently used what they’ve been blessed with to bless others. As I horrifyingly witness the inevitable slide of humanity from the core values of yesteryears to something that can only be described as inhumanity, it simply expresses how easily we have forgotten who we are or who we were meant to be : to shine light in the darkness, to sow peace where strife exists, to love when we feel the least like loving; that almost summarily in one broad brush stroke describes what our lives should be.

Do I write from a place of resentment? Heck, no! There’s barely enough room on my plate to actually take the best care of myself and medically speaking, going down that route bodes nothing but ill-will for me. The beautiful thing about faith and trust is that we push ourselves to heights previously unattainable and see things from a completely different perspective. It has never been about you; casting doubts and fears away so that we are unburdened and ready to walk our path with nothing but trust in The One who made us. To many, it might seem foolish but remember the music fades at some point and beyond that, there’s little left for us to do. What we did is what will matter and woe betides the man or woman who fritters away the future for today’s pleasure, despising everyone else that doesn’t fit into your carefully selected category.

It is sheer wisdom to realize that what matters the most is not what we receive but rather what we do with what we have received and so I opine that keeping this fact in front of us will inadvertently put us on the right path. Even as I grieve alongside my brother, I am confident of this fact that He has not brought us this far just to abandon us and when it seems like I am abandoned, that is when I know that a transition is on its way and so my job is to brace myself and keep pushing ahead. “Tough times are inevitable, and this is a fact many of us don’t actively try to face. But if we recognize that we are capable of doing so, and we are prepared in our attitudes and philosophy, we can grow as people and go on to push the boundaries and experience a richer and more fulfilling life.’

Let us remember that “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.” – W.E Channing

עד שניפגש שוב, מי ייתן וcountenace יזרח לטובה עליך!

Adios!

Landmarks, Milestones and Trails…..

Standard

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” – Aung San Suu Kyi
I could spend hours dwelling on the ups and downs of life’s unfair paths however it is more beneficial to realize that we are a product of the choices we make regardless of the position we find ourselves. There will always be seasons but the longevity or the brief span it covers is something that we will never be able to control and so it makes common sense that we utilize the seasons to the best of our capabilities.

Within the brief time I have been blessed with, I have known lots of extremes; I have hosted and dined with royalty and nobles and I have huddled together with the hungry for warmth and together, ushered many sincere prayers for security and a hot meal. I have experienced the vitality and exuberance of youthfulness and also known the despair of learning to be dependent on others. I have known and experienced the short-termed high of opulence and also known the despondency of acute lack staring me in the face; an unwanted but inevitable companion. All of these I have since learned are the signs and milestones of life’s journey which we all take irrespective of who you are. I have experienced the wisdom of being a lender as well as the painful lesson of being an ignored borrower. In all of these, a truth stands clear – there is great wisdom learnt in the house of mourning.

Trail

Trail

I have on several occasions learned to ask myself if I was acting from a stance of courage or of abject fear, and the answers have always varied but what remains constant is that there will always be seasons and the choices I make in those seasons determine to a very large extent how quickly I learn the lessons for that season or how patiently I must wait to ensure that my teaching is effective and the feedback appropriate. Life will never be all roses or all thorns however the beauty of life is that even amongst the dying embers of a funeral pyre, a phoenix can emerge. The fragrance of the roses will always waft but woe betide those who in abject ignorance believe that it is theirs forever because that in itself shows a level of understanding utterly ludicrous in itself. Dynamism will always be inevitable and learning how to break a fall whilst in the safe confines of a trampoline in your back yard is an endeavor that will never be regretted.

The beauty of life’s journey usually lies in those moments that will forever be etched on your memory; some will be cherished forever whilst others will be termed experience because of the searing hurt that came with them. As I write, I recall vividly the number of times that I was surprisingly blessed as well as those moments that I was left with my jaw on the floor, stunned beyond words. Dystonia and Myoclonus will be landmarks on my sojourn however inasmuch as it was a transforming moment but in comparison with events like being a Christian, becoming a father, a lifetime companion, it sort of pales into insignificance. Now being able to carefully balance life scales is a skill we learn as we navigate life because the choice to focus on the dark moments as against focusing on the bright moments and looking forward with unquenchable hope to getting to our destination is one that is personalized. The destination that is charted by our purpose on earth should be the star that shines through even in the darkest of nights.

I recently had to weigh in on a trending situation about faith and religion, and trust me, I try absolutely to make my stance clear. There is absolutely no points scored in kicking one who is already down neither is there anything vaguely resembling authority when you hide behind the innocuous threats of a past life in order to pillage that which you are supposed to be watching over. It bothers on the absurd when you manipulate lives that should be influenced by you, and then strip away the dignity and glory from the innocent lives that you can reach. Choosing instead to trample and flaunt as against encouraging and building, the truth associated with that is there will always be a time of reckoning, that is something that is a certainty. In that era of accountability and reckoning, nothing of material value will hold any worth but what transcends every arena is the compassion, kindness and assistance we apply to every situation we find ourselves.

Landmark

Landmark

I recall with a degree of humor, how many people have literally tried to stump me down because I made a choice to be vulnerable with them. I am still standing and the truth is that whilst my bouquet of medication might soar in price, my trust in God soars even higher. I recall these words; ‘What you make (or receive) is an earning but when you give, you touch (or make) a life.’ Now the question so erroneously ignored is that what you earn is entirely yours to do as you please but how and what put the field out there for you to earn from? I am still nursing a damaged rotator cuff because getting it repaired has just not been affordable but I have neither forgotten those who gave of the little they had nor those who chose to ignore. Infact I will always remember how easily man forgets his beginnings and with the headiness of strong liquor, gives because others are giving and then turns around and demands that he be refunded as the liquor bars and the stripper poles are of more value to him. Ignorance? Maybe…..nonetheless when we can bless but through indifference want to curse, we forget that we are spirit beings on a human journey – every action counts.

Do I have regrets? None even though it still is such an intense journey filled with twists and turns but what I can count on is that my destination is sure and each day, I obediently take one step at a time, knowing that His faithfulness is forever. It is almost a decade since I was diagnosed and never have I found myself on the road pan-handling or begging bread even when there was truly no bread in the pantry. Each year in its unfolding gives me a deeper layer of understanding what real priorities are and despite those scary times when the trail stretches unendingly in the dead of the night with no light to see milestone markers or landmarks, I cannot accommodate the thought of giving up. When the taunts of ignorant men, seemingly secure in their wealth, tend to hurt, I remember that even though sticks, stones and words might hurt me but the decision to get up and keep going is mine to make and mine alone. I may not have to give what you specifically request but what I have, I have learned to freely share because not only does it lighten my burden and brighten another’s day, it also frees up room for wisdom to guide me through my journey.

To the many companions and helpers raised in my path, I will forever be grateful because giving is a sacrifice in itself and someday the return on that sacrifice will blow your minds. To the many who choose to be ignorant and believe they hold all the chips, thank you for the lessons in humility and enabling me not to acquiesce to desperation. These are not just fancy words but the expressions from a heart within a battered body, candid and sincere and to all those who feel they must succumb to desperation, despair and despondency in the light of the many who have refused to help, note this – the race is never determined by how swift you are or the victory on the battlefield determined by the strength of an army. As long as you choose each day never to give up, you are chalking up points where it counts and being a beacon of light to the weary, oppressed and downtrodden all around us. We can never change the world but we can change a life, so go ahead and give a lending hand to that outstretched arm and if that is all you do, be content and press on.

Remember, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

עד שניפגש שוב, מי ייתן ובהירות ארשת פניו תמשיך להאיר את דרכך ולתת תקוו

Adios!