From Venus…

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Admittedly, resentment and bitterness only hurt oneself, so I may be a little bit unsteady but I’m still holding on because I don’t think He’s done with me yet. I’m not capitulating as I watch but it seems like something is unraveling and I just might have the power to slow it down because inevitability cannot be stopped. It’s mother’s day and the least I can do is share the memories we made together that I’ll forever cherish till we meet again. There’s some irony in God’s playbook because He made man from dust and woman from man’s bone. Now metallurgy not required, we undeniably rely on fact that bone is stronger than dust but there again in full display is our inability to grasp divinity.

It’s been close to 2years since you got called home however your legacy still lives on. Everything I am today, I owe to you in some way. I recall rolling my eyes when you inexplicably went into the tale of my childbirth to my friends but that’s the beginning of just how amazing you were because you made a choice, you had me. I tell people that I wasn’t your favorite but despite that, you poured your entire being into raising all 7 of us, 3 of us felt your ire directly however, that’s why I could contribute in those after me and that’s how I am the father I’ve become, ill-health or not. So thank you, because raising 6 sons is not a feat for the faint hearted especially when you factor in the cities we lived and grew up in.

We have always been dog-lovers but as a young kid, you bought me a night shirt that I still remember and it had the picture of a cat with the words, ‘I’m just PURR-FECT!’. That in itself marked the choices I made and still make because nobody’s perfect but I strove to be as close to it as I could because you showed me how. You taught me to acknowledge that I was in charge of my life’s story; you taught me to believe in myself. Nothing couldn’t be surmounted as long as I believed in myself and today, I pass that message to the next generation. You had your own flaws but when it came to us, you laid it all out and even though you banned fighting at home, I still got into it outside because the streets crush the feeble and I will never describe or be described as feeble.

You bought me my first tie, even though it was to placate me and little did I know that wearing ties would be a signature. My childhood pictures are replete with images of me in bow ties and I look at them today and appreciate the big picture you saw of me even then. Dining was a formal affair especially dinner because you had already committed to teaching even before motherhood and so dinner was always a family affair. With you, there was no defined roles determined by gender and I’m thankful for that. Notwithstanding the fact that we grew up with house helps, you always said, “I will never raise up another’s child to the detriment of mine” and so there was no distinction between what I or the house help could do. It was confusing back then but now I understand.

You took me to purchase my first pair of grown-up shoes (driving was still years away), standing by the side while I made my selection knowing there was a budget to abide by. And when peer pressure came, you never buckled because you taught me that it was more important to be different and true rather than being part of the crowd. You taught me that contentment and self-esteem was a choice, because the road less traveled was usually the better route to take. You taught me to treat ladies with respect even before I had a sister, a trait that’s fast disappearing in today’s world. Chivalry is still as important and more needed today where the battle of self-identity has been flipped on its head; what’s right is right regardless of time.

You took the time (how?, just another pointer to who you were) to teach me driving at 15, intricately weaving in the need to be responsible at the same time. Reading your crime magazines ensured that I could deal with fear and also understand that the heart of man is desperately wicked. Striving for excellence, I knew you were in the auditorium when I got my first award/scholarship as a freshman in high school, because even though I didn’t see you, I could hear your car keys jingle each time you applauded – that was your thing; wearing your car keys on your pinkie. Your ability to effectively utilize the network (and undervalued profession) of teachers ensured that I sought the straight and narrow even when the exuberance of youthfulness came calling with whispered lies and well conceived folly. You were strict and harsh when the occasion called for it and just the memory of the last ‘whupping’ was enough to keep the foolishness away for a season.

You nudged me to understand that salvation was important and essential, making my personal walk with God a decision I made entirely on my own. Acknowledging that there’s more to life than meets the eyes was the foundation of my Christianity and yet I’m still learning and paying it forward till date. Discarding ego, I learned crafts (it was your standard) that positioned me well enough to understand that being your own boss was better than being the best employee. I learned culinary skills from your glossy magazines and catering books as well as being in the kitchen with you. You taught me that adventure was good because curiosity could be a villain. You taught me that freedom was not the absence of rules but rather the opportunity to be disciplined and control myself at all times. You taught me that vulnerability wasn’t a weakness however, building relationships that bettered me would always keep me growing.

Thank you for being the best mother that I needed and happy mother’s day! Till we meet again in Zion, continue in your rest and I hope I made you proud.

Adieu!

A Perorating Knell…..

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Abducted as a child. Sexually molested as a kid. Witnessed domestic abuse up close. Bullied then learned street survival as a pre-teen. Knocked unconscious by a thrown discus in junior high. Survived an acid bath in high school. Survived two ghastly automobile crashes. Witnessed the violence of religious fanaticism. Been shot at by friend and foe. Betrayed by friend and family. Disillusioned by Lady Justice (oh, she’s blindfolded). Knocked from grace to grass. Saddled with an exotic neurological disease. We each have sullied memories but also démodé is the sincerity of our vulnerability.

Listen

Like most people, still I stand on this side of life, albeit reeling and wheezing from another blindsided body punch. My past played some role in shaping me but it will not and has not defined me, that’s an area where my choice counts and mightily at that. The truth is that I don’t know when my end will come however, what I do know is that even though misery loves company, I’m never going to accept an invitation nor be the celebrant at any ‘event’ of such. I have seen lives lost over little issues and semi-truck sized issues to know that you must make hay during the day because the night when human beings sleep is coming. I have grieved too many times but I know sorrow’s curtain call is still a far distance away, so the journey continues, to a destination that’s beyond my wildest imagination. Therein lies the hope that takes me through each day, good or bad.

Today, I mark another milestone; a unique gift that can only come from One Giver. I am blessed with another year and even though I don’t like surprises, He’s got a huge sense of humor and whatever the circumstances are, I know He knows my name and He’s not done with me yet. Today is a permutation of variables that I would never have imagined, yet I stand, not by my own strength (heck! I can barely get out of bed most days without assistance). I stand, not in arrogance, but in awe of the dexterity of my Maker so I celebrate Him because He alone is the essence of my being. It’s kind of ironic realizing that love hurts and yet, that is a debt we are inexorably obligated to pay to the lives we are given the opportunity to encounter as we each continue on our separate journeys. The irony lies both in the fact that you can obey or be defiant in your stupidity, and that most times the love is never appreciated, least of all reciprocated.

My head and heart hurt but even that cannot cast a pall over the numerous reasons why I must be thankful. Like a friend said, ‘choose to see the glass of water as half full’ so that’s still my choice. The juxtaposition of wisdom in sorrow cannot be comprehended by my feeble mind, neither can my frail body confidently attest to how I am still in one piece and therein lies another reason to be thankful. Every past traumatic event, just like being on a treadmill, burning off the fat and unhealthy parts of me so that I can withstand the current rigors of purposeful living. Today I have lost more friends than I ever thought I would have made but it has also revealed the few remarkable ones that remain. Spanning three generations, I see them and I am thankful.

Waft or Wait

What do I say to my Mother India who’s burying the last of her 2 daughters at the end of this week? It is well? Oh most definitely not, but in the face of the stampede we live in, where education is not about the acquisition of knowledge, we stride around with puffed chests and flaunt our ignorance. It is well, yes,……but with my soul! Go figure out how to speak to your soul and allow me relish in the absence of your persona and its associated superfluity of nothingness. There’s an intangible gravity to the word ‘woe’ so I always use it with trepidation, it does not convey the same tenuousness as sad or sorrow. However, I am in no way embarking on a pseudo intellectual debate on the shimmer and nitty-gritty of English grammar. ‘Woe to they who trust in the arm of flesh…..’ and right there, that word beginning the sentence is enough to dissipate even the fog of inebriation.

One of my favorite quotes is this, paraphrased, ‘row upon row of rowdy spectators, crowd the vast arena full but there’s only one man who knows and he’s the one to face the bull.’ This year, more than ever, I am going to remind myself first before others who permit me to speak (permit not indulge) that even in the face of stormy waters, I will tell myself this; “it is well….with my soul” and I’d rather you didn’t tell me because you don’t know me. No offense intended, I rarely indulge in soliloquy but those three words to some degree, conveyorize familiarity and I truly don’t know you. Nobody truly does but rather than putting in the work to listen so as to obtain a better purview, we often traipse the path most traveled. It’s easier!

What’s the easiest way to discern a fool? The inexplicable concerted effort of a human being doing the same thing over and over and over, and expecting a different result. This year, I’m constantly going to remind myself that woe betide me if I trust in the arm of flesh. There’s a time and place for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, I choose to entrust God with the time between those events. This year, I’m going to double down on the truth that silence can be golden, ‘if only a fool could his lips sealed….’ he and she would have a sterling career in the undercover world.

I can’t go back and fix the past, neither can I go to the future and set it up just the way I want (tried that and got knocked from grace to grass) however, what I will do, is to make each day count for something. I may be beleaguered on all sides but I will not stop to contemplate calling it quits, rather I’ll strive to ensure that I’m on the right side and make these words into a mantra; ‘MANY are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver him and her from them ALL!’ That’s how I choose to start this year and I’m inexorably convinced that this will be my best year yet. Sneer all you want, when you want, just be kindly reminded that there’s a spot at my banquet that’s reserved for you.


Remember, even if everyone gives up on you, it changes nothing until you give up on yourself. Enjoy your rest, Temi, till we meet to part no more!

עד שניפגש שוב, מי יתן והפנים שלו ימשיכו לזרוח עלינו לטובה!


Adieu!

Clichés, truths and others…..

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At this rate, it’s an uphill task trying to keep moving forward cos everytime, I look around, there’s fewer and fewer to build bridges with. It’s easier to destroy bridges (and there’s always a crowd in that profession). It takes selflessness and humility to maintain bridges because that’s exactly what life is about; relationships and building bridges. Nobody gives a hoot about your preconceived notion of who you think you are. You want to regale yourself for kicking people when they are already down. That, you erroneously think, is your purpose but just hold on and hear the noise of the silence.

Build a life

I oft ask myself what’s worse than a person who has traded compassion and kindness for flattery. It’s still an ongoing exercise for me! At the mere mention of money, suddenly it evokes a litany of your expenses without even knowing where the conversation is headed. A genuine ‘i hear you and we’ll get through it together’ isn’t a mortal sin. Not every event calls for money especially when you don’t have it to give. However, sincere words are also an undeniable expression of concern and there’s something genuine in silence even with just your presence. What relationship can you initiate when there’s truly nothing you agree on. How then can two walk together except in agreement, how difficult is it to put aside our haughtiness and realize that we’re part of over 8 interconnected billion people. Noting matters more than what impact you have on the lives you encountered.

I lost my dearest friend on Saturday, and the surge of ‘it is well’ is threatening to distort the objective – to celebrate her because just like each of us, she was not perfect and yet she showed that love not only covers a multitude of sins but it also is nigh impossible to love from your comfort zone. What is well about a parent burying her children after investing so much in them? What is well about being misconstrued and treated with disdain? What is well about people prioritizing their meager resources over the very obvious needs of others? What is well about kin railroading kin? What is well about not being civil enough to acknowledge someone trying to get in touch with you?

It’s not well that you could have helped someone floundering but you choose instead to wait till their transition to become the Chief mourner? What’s life all about but to help as many people get closer to their destination, because that’s why you’ve been blessed with what you have. It is not well that 2 young kids have to grapple with the concept of death and a future that’s become unsure and frightening. We dare not question the sovereignty of our creator but please remember that even children are no more frightened by a painted mask. If God wanted you to be an ostrich, you’d have no say in the matter then why are you burying your head in the sands at the faintest glimpse of the needy? Guess what! Even with your head in the sands, you also have needs so how are your needs more important than the unspoken needs of the bloke 4 blocks away?

For 27yrs, I had the privilege of sharing my life with a beautiful soul and I don’t know how to deal with that so I just trust God. We must turn to each other and not on each other, that would be a good start. Now she’s in a better place however, did I do all I could just to make her journey just a bit easier? I hope I did because she wore her heart on her sleeve. It’s love that gives room for you to be broken more times than you imagined, the same love will build you up and make you better & stronger. None of us has the time schedule for life so make each day count because it’s just outright absurd that we spend more time on making a living when we could rather build a life.

Friend or foe (Pt 2)….

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2hrs 23mins left and once that resets to zero, the year 2021 becomes the past and there is absolutely nothing we can do about the events of the year except learn from the mistakes we made. 2022 begins; a fresh new parchment and I definitely know that it comes with its fair share of highs and low so why procrastinate completing this post? I learned this year that procrastination is the thief of opportunity and I definitely am not letting any theft take place whilst I yet watch. Not on my watch because in my world that would be an ending without a completion, something that those with OCD will spend the first hours of the new year trying to grapple with.

Friend or Foe?

There is definitely a lot to pen down, but with the end comes a beginning and so I will attempt to keep this as brusque as is civil. I happened to come across a social media post from one of the new friends I made in 2021 and why it stuck was the simplicity of the of the post. He graduated from high school, the same as I attended and he asked for people to comment and state the year of graduation so as to enable him know who were his ‘seniors’ and those who were his ‘juniors’. A pretty unusual request however, what made it quite fascinating was that he graduated the same year that I was born and so you can understand the incredulity of even trying to comment because where do you start from. I was not even conceived when he got into high school but I did something different – I commented and said much more as is typical with me when I come across extraordinary events.

He was the last of 5 friends I made in 2021 and of-course the scales are off-center because I know I made much more foes than 5 and that is not in anyway due to me embarking on a ‘get as many foes as you can’ mission. It reminds me of a question that someone posted on Quora and his question was why do banks accept deposits within minutes but it takes the same institution at least 3 days to refund money? Having some banking experience, it brought a chuckle to my lips because that summarily is what life is about – life is unfair and if you have not encountered the unfairness of life then I would suggest that you probably stop reading and go watch the fireworks going off in celebration of the new year. It is almost like asking why do some people choose to be foolish because I do know that God freely gives wisdom, they are just comfortable in the ignorance that they knowingly flaunt around with every given opportunity and I most wholeheartedly assure you that I speak with some experience on that subject.

Lest I get bothered and thrown off course by the amazing ability of people to choose folly over wisdom on a recurring basis, I must also acknowledge that we need them, not as jesters in our courts but as foes because there must always be some sort of balance in life. The more the merrier, remember that God is sovereign and if He is preparing a banquet for me then I know it is not anything small. I am truly thankful for the foes because it helps keep the hope of restoration and abundance alive, what would a banquet be without self-styled unhappy people so there is truly no need to go recruiting foes, they will show up regardless of what you do so just continue to be a better version of yourself and grace them with the complement of ignorance. Haters will always hate however, friends are rare and therefore much more worthy of my actions because friends make you better, they pull you up when you fall and they evoke the desire to make life more relevant which should be a priority for anyone who has a modicum of understanding regarding our journey through life, for therein lies fulfilment.

Despite my laptop vehemently struggling to be a foe, I owe myself the time honored responsibility of making my life count for something and so onwards I must continue, not just for myself but also for those lives that are inexplicably connected to mine. Tweak what you can whilst you can because 2hrs can be applied to doing something nice and impactful to others, and when that runs out, you can either choose to remain in the past or move on with an unflinching stare, confident that the future is now the present and what treats it has in store for us. I want to give a give a special shout-out to friends that were bold enough to tell me ‘No’ because the ‘No’ unknown to them were answers to prayers and I know that God promises what is best for me. With that, I want to thank you all for being part of my life and I conclude this with a prayer that we truly understand that there can be no happy new year without God being first place.

Remember that in everything we do, He must be glorified and that is how I choose to end 2021 and begin 2022, with a steely resolve to make everything I do, glorifying to Him. That is my resolution for the new year along with a prayer that in times of weakness, His grace and strength will be made manifest. I know that 2022 will yet reveal just a glimpse (because of the frailty of our mind) of His Kindness and faithfulness, and so together let us usher in another awesome year, better that any year we have lived.

שנלמד משגיאות העבר כשאנו מביטים קדימה לפאר העתיד!

Adieu!

Oh the chariots of men….

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‘A King is not saved by a large army; a warrior will not be delivered by great strength. The horse is a false hope for safety; it provides no escape by its great power. Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him – those who depend on His faithful love to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine.’ Isaiah 31:1

Chariots of men

‘Speed thrills but it also kills’ was probably one of the very first adages that I committed to memory long before I was even deemed ready to learn how to drive and even at that, the inability to exhibit perspicacious judgement was something that I had to acknowledge in literally anything that included someone else other than me. Consistency requires discipline and I look at where I am today and I ashamedly acquiesce that there is still much to be learned by me. I just had an appointment rescheduled because of the trajectory of hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, not to forget the 71 victims from the tornado in Kentucky and amidst it all, I must choose to either be thankful or pander to the whims and caprices of those who already own tickets to the banquet.

What banquet? The banquet prepared by God for me and it is with a wry smile that I look at the thinly veiled pretense of ticket holders because they are yet to understand that their tickets are for front row seats behind the velvet ropes. They are not participants, no, they are just there to witness the banquet and leave with empty bellies and dashed hopes. It hurts however, I know it is for a season because true strength does not lie in what meets the eye but rather that which eyes cannot see and with that in mind, why the continued trips to Egypt? Why the frenetic search for ways to get out of the enclosure because of the seemingly greener grass out yonder? You seek comfort? Go for it but remember that true growth and promotion lies outside your comfort zone.

I choose to be thankful even as calls go unanswered and unreturned, I remind myself that every destiny is determined by He who creates and so, just like I have been encouraged in the last 2 days, I will yet keep my head up and fight because I know the victory is already mine. Plunge the dagger in to the hilt and remember to twist it so the wound never heals right and someday I will show you those scars as signs of victory. Why the desperation of the wickedness of hearts? How can anyone forget that we are nothing but dust albeit empowered by the Breath of God? What is with the false adulation that you delight in as you parade? Look at yourself and realize that you may be titled ’emperor’ but you have no clothes on, your fancy apparel is nothing but the false words of sycophants. Blame no one, you compelled the flattery and you got it in tons. Your horses are compelled by the bit and yoke but I dare you to remove them and to the earth you will come crashing even as the horses bolt away in sheer delight.

A gilded chariot you think you have but I dare you to scratch because just beneath the surface lies nothing but rusty iron and scrap metal. I refuse to stay down because I will yet arise, confident in the truth that His eye is upon me and regardless of what you think you see, what I know is I have called into existence that which will shatter the workings of your feeble mind. I would help you but you deny assistance and so like the beasts, you will find rest in thorns and comfort in the hardened bark of trees. I bear you no ill-will but you have chosen to contend with One who cannot be contended with, so embrace the consequences because not even the kings’ armies can put you back together again. That hollowness you feel is that which you are; shallow and empty, grabbing and scheming with grubby hands for that which can never be yours. Just a little while, friend, just a little while and then you will have eternity to yourself where nobody will care for your screams of anguish.

I pray for you because that is what I do. I will lend a hand though you toss it aside because that is who I am. I am not a survivor, I am more than a conqueror and some day, sooner than you think, the scales will stay true. For ‘Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He answers me from His holy Heaven with the saving power of His right Hand…….You will collapse and fall, but I rise up and stand firm!’

Friend or Foe….(pt 1)

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Innocence

Phew! This year thus far has been good to me and I write that because I can, I will and I believe it regardless of today’s circumstances. I have also decided to have my own podcast because in addition to the novelty, it seems that with the frenetic pace of the world we live in, the probability of having a message received is better if the mode of communication is directly/indirectly verbal but audio, rather than written. Undeniably, I am of the vintage category and there is nothing more satisfying than putting words directly on a parchment with a feather dipped into a bottle of ink. Now juxtapose the technology of today and you would get a clearer meaning. And lest I get carried away by the avalanche of words just bubbling beneath the tips of my fingers, the podcast is RedzSpeak on Anchor and I initially toyed with the idea of just translating older posts however I realized that every post is for a reason and a particular season (with a specific audience) so I decided to just stick with what is new so be my guest.

As is wont with my upbringing, I really should have begun with “forgive me, it has been almost 2 months since my last post..” nonetheless I ask that you forgive me. It does take discipline to stick to a routine however even at that life happens but no excuses are allowed in this environment. Why? I learned at an early age that an excuse is just a guarded lie. So much has transpired and there is so much more ahead however I am inexplicably convinced that this is THE YEAR! I believe it and I hope you do or else this adage might apply to you; ‘we don’t know who discovered water but we are certain it was not a fish.’ In continuance of that line of thought, realize I said discovered not created because there is just One Creator. The pain of my mom’s passing is still there but with each passing day, the gnawing pain reduces just a tad and the hurt is not as fresh; but definitely no hydrogen peroxide just yet.

I am glad to share that I almost lost my bff to cancer but it just was not time and so I am thankful that there is something worth being thankful for. It is amazing that trials and tribulations are specifically inevitable but the end product is good. They strengthen our faith, give us a better perspective and just maybe re-route us to the right path. I love the book of Job because even with 42 chapters, it would seem like common sense to literally interpret his period of affliction went for at least 10 years however delving into the life of Job and the time he lived in, it is almost certain that it was less than a year, more like a few months. Pin drop? Peter corroborates this by saying “After you have suffered a LITTLE while…….God of all undeserved kindness will Himself finish your training…”– 1 Peter 5:10 and so even for me, 11 years is a little while, ending as we speak.

Drop the act…

So what am I all gushy about, Job had a few individuals who were unashamed to call him friend – they travelled just to be with him – they literally put their own lives on hold for Job. They might not have said the right things but guess what they showed up for him and that is what friends do; they show up when everyone else has abandoned you to your ‘fate’, they empathized with him in what I call the ministry of silence in suffering and they spent time with him. So the standard of friendship is so simple that it was literally put in the most read book in the world – The Holy Bible. Just three characteristics, folks but hey ol’ McDonald, in order to know how many friends you have, just go to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. What a farce we have turned the world into? How have we so comfortably taken the meaning of life and made it all about trivialities? Where did we exchange our humanity for callousness and indifference? How did we translate friendship into something that only shows up when you die?

I was speaking with a friend today and she said the very same words that I still hear in the quiet moments, just in my mom’s voice, “everyone is not like you.” and I do not doubt that but gosh, I do get weary of everyone saying it, thankfully I can count my friends using just my fingers. And so I would kindly ask that you begin a re-evaluation of those you call friends because you use fewer letters to spell the word foe which encompasses majority of people that say, ‘he’s my friend!’ and most times you have never even heard those words directly from them. Now I am not saying become a hermit instead my postulation is be a friend or just remain a fish swimming with no intention of even wanting to know its identity least of all its purpose. When my name is called up yonder, my remains will be cremated because I probably will react with divine fury at the people who would give eulogies having within them the phrase, ‘my friend’. Weep now for me or forever hold your tears, be civil at least to answer my call because I can assure you that I am not calling to ask you for monetary aid. Be human enough to listen to me just for a little before you drown me in your cascade of excuses. Excuses do not exist here!

Acknowledge that you are my foe so I can get you front row seats as He prepares my banquet because in reality, you are wasting the alphabets, there are just 26 of them for as long as I can remember, it is not the periodic table! Acknowledge that you are my foe not for fear of repercussion from me but just for you to have a life that has a smidgen of meaning. I am just as dispensable as you and so do yourself some good and stand for something instead of swaying with the breeze like one who is inebriated on cheap liquor. I am thankful for those who can call me friend without the blood draining from your face in the face of such a gargantuan untruth but most importantly I am thankful for my family and for those who I call friend even though I probably could be in that section of their contacts that has ‘?’ as its tag. There is so much joy when brothers and sisters gather in unity however I must be true to myself and truly appreciate the people I come across each day because therein lies a choice, ‘can I be a friend to this person?’.

Remember this ‘true friends are never apart, maybe in distance but never in heart.’

עד שניפגש שוב, מי יתן וספינתו של אלוהים תזרח עליך לטובה!

Adios!

The other side…

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What?

“Never look down on any individual except you want to look at their shoes!”

How and when did being truthful become an anathema? Oh, the ways of men! Well I opine that most times, we prepare for the fight but lay down and stay down when the fight is on. What is life that we are so ensconced in ourselves that when another person asks a simple request of you, it easily hurdles over the common decency of ordinary courtesy. Growing up, courtesy was not taught, it was implemented but alas now courtesy is a favor that is bequeathed from your throne to an underling. 2021 is already shaping up to being a year that as it unfolds, allows us a better glimpse of what are really priorities and what should not even be mistaken as a priority. The last month was a period of facing harsh realities and overcoming demons because a life with no purpose is a life firmly embedded in misery. Yes, social media has become an art gallery filled with so many fraudulent copies of truth, and so there is an unending line to get into that gallery because in there, we can enjoy the dearth of anonymity and its accompanying lack of expectations.

The grass always seems better on the other side however what of those that have been on both sides and can attest that where you are is a platform for you to learn or teach. Remarkably, we have attuned our hearing to ignore what is being loudly spoken of, and rather choose to attempt to redefine insanity. True, we are each a work in progress whether narcissism and ego choose to allow you to acknowledge that. Like the shifting sands of the desert, the experiences we ought to learn from are immediately forgotten and buried because that is what we choose because it calls for no effort on our part. Today is a gift (and ironically it is also the beginning of a new month), now the question is what do we plan to do or are we set up to fail because we have hastily cast off the responsibility and discipline that comes with making a plan, sticking with it and also having the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. I lost a peer recently and the world is still moving on, does that mean that I am bereft of emotion or just dealing with the grief in my own way? It is the latter and even as the lessons he imparted in the 4 decades he lived are mine to implement or discard where necessary, life goes on.

In the course of beginning a new career, I have truly been swamped by the glaring inequality of life. Like a rollercoaster; up today and down tomorrow with absolutely no clue as to when we must get off that ride but then my ability to choose is something that nothing and nobody can take away from me. Who are you? What are you? Why are you you? These are questions of intense gravity because within the answers lies our purpose. No matter how much we long to be on the side, there is a time for that and regardless of how manipulative and deceitful we choose to be, what has brought you thus far is certainly not going to be able to take you to the next place and unfortunately for many, it will be a reversal in so many ways. Till the right time, even when we cunningly make our way to the other side, rest assured that like fish out of water, you are most likely unable to survive because to every season, there is a time just as there is a beginning and an end to every season regardless of how long you have been there. Identify your weaknesses and focus on transforming them to strengths instead of flaunting them as laurels because even as you bask in the false and rapid applause of those who are gifted in flattery, the truth is we must be willing to learn from every circumstance or else you face the agony of life; emotionless in her teaching.

Each morning, I am reminded that the troubles of every new day are never that God has changed His standards midway but rather it is about me choosing to make the day count by seeking out and focusing on the blessings that come with each new day. And so with the obvious blessing that is illustrated in the fact that I am not concerned about the quality of air that I breath (even while I slept), there is so much that we can do not just in being thankful but by actually living it out. The slogan is ‘keep on paying it forward’ and that is without having a sense of entitlement to a better response because it is truly not just about me but rather it is about what I do with what I have with respect to the lives I am blessed to encounter. That summarily is how I live each day until my name is called and my role is finally over, but till then I owe my Creator and the lives I come across an obligation to be better than I was the day before – the last encounter. This is a journey, with no idea if it is a sprint or a marathon however the rules still apply – you can do something with what you have and as long as you apply yourself to doing the best you can, be reminded that the rest is up to God. Once again, I remind myself not to grow weary in well doing because there is seed time and harvest time, I cannot afford to let the challenges of the completely mysterious ways that others respond to me become my primary focus.

I am who I am because God made a masterpiece in me and whilst the full brilliance is still unexposed, I must journey on with the knowledge that I am a masterpiece not due to the actions or inactions of others but because that is what I am and will always be. I choose not to give up and I encourage you to do same because there will always be a day of reckoning and I definitely want to be on the Roll that is up yonder.

עד שאלוהים יפסיק לתת לנו נשימה, מראה הפנים שלו יזרחו עליכם לטובה!

Adieu!

Happy Birthday Mom….

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In my few years of existing here, I’ve heard life characterized by many adjectives but nothing quite prepares you for the fact that it ceases especially when it goes all ninja like. Sneaking in and taking that which you least expected would be taken; then a whole lot begins to actually make sense even though all your life, they were familiar. The true value of anything is really known only when it is lost and so when the absence hurts the most is when events associated with that loss come up. Life actually never ceases but there must always be a transition, and then we really have no sway over that phase of life and maybe that is what sucks the most.

Happy birthday mommy!

Today would have been my mom’s 74th birthday however I choose to mark this day on this side of life being thankful for all she did to make me the man I am. Yes the regrets still come up but there’s nothing I can do about them but to apply them towards making today as significant as it would have been. As a father, I see her in her grandkids and that gives me some solace because therein is a reminder that she truly imparted values that would last generations. Ironically today is quite special because I was also introduced to the world on the same day, and I never could understand why she always told the story of my birth – I was born premature but today I’m thankful because I can tell the beginning of my story having heard it so many times.

Grief is like a sponge, cleansing even though it’s painful so today I choose to celebrate her in a different way. I realize that there are so many dimensions to our lives but we get to choose and prioritize. She was the embodiment of her name; victorious and full of vitality. And for us growing up, she held nothing back to ensure we had that leg up that many unfortunately never had. In retrospect, after her transition, I realized she had so much secreted away for reasons best known to her. In the light of some of these revelations, do I hurt? Yes I do but it was her choice and that I will always respect.

Just like Samson, I opine to say that she achieved more in her passing than she did whilst she lived. I just got off the phone, yet another reminder of what she lived for. My dearest aunt tearfully calling to remind me that today would have been her birthday and I think I get it. There are relationships that despite the divide in life, transcend the norm and as I try to do her honor, I must acknowledge that she was the best of us. Just like the matador in the arena, we were only spectators but how glad I am that she put up such a fascinating display as a lady, a wife and most importantly as my mother. She was almost everything and her standards were the best even with her imperfections.

In honor of her, I commit to being the best version of myself regardless of present circumstances and deep down I hope she is proud of me because I am eternally grateful to have been part of her life for 43 years and some. Now going forward, I listen to her grand daughter who fusses over me just like her grandmother would. In the blossoming of her life, I cherish every moment as she grows into the lady that I am and will always be proud of because I see and recognize virtues and priceless traits that bridge generations even as they are passed on. I never experienced the hard knocks my mom received so I wouldn’t have to and so I take the knocks today so that mine would never experience them too.

The least I can do is never give up in carrying her legacy on. And even when it feels like I’m getting swamped, I’m rejuvenated by the fact that she gave life her best shot and so I have no excuse but to give life my best shot. No excuses at all!

Happy birthday mommy and till we meet again in heaven, may your memories be a constant source of blessing to me and mine. I love you now and always! Your son.

Values, Discounts & You….

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Be You!

Admittedly this has been quite a break and in essence nothing truly substitutes the loss of a loved one especially a mother and yes, time must go on but once again a completely unexpected event has provided me with the opportunity to re-evaluate what my priorities are especially in the wake of a brand-new year. So as is demanded by common decency and etiquette, I want to bid you all, “Happy New Year!” and that is completely ensconced in a prayer that 2021 will be so much better than the chaos that characterized the past year. Nonetheless history has taught me that we can get so bedeviled by traumatic events that before we know it, we are so bogged down in the past and thus unable to appreciate new beginnings. Yet again I choose to be thankful for the gift of life and new beginnings. In retrospect, I am confident that this year has no option other than besting the last year – a year plagued with so much fear, uncertainty, sadness and adversities however adversity forces us to rethink and to borrow the words of a well-respected Minister, ‘setbacks happen so that we can prepare ourselves for a comeback.’

As is wont with me, I just have to point out that time has not ceased because we are already in the 2nd month. Now with that firmly established, what are my take-aways from 2020? What am I leaving in my rear-view mirror? What am I thankful for but most importantly what is my comeback going to be? What were those issues that I wrongly valued? What am I committed to in a bid to grab the pen and write my own narrative? The truth is that life just like a show must still go on and how do I intend to do things my own way? Have I truly re-evaluated myself? Yes I have and as is the case with many, I have come to the sad conclusion that I have so horribly discounted myself both in intentional and unintentional ways. I personally am not fond of going to shops and shopping however in response to the pandemic, I would say I am fortunate. On the few occasions I have had to shop which includes the frequent refilling of my medication, getting a discount is always a nice bit of surprise – just like having shepherd pie with apple pie truffles during a very normal and ordinary visit to a chum’s home.

Inexplicably, I have given away too many discounts to my detriment and whilst I pride myself on being assertive, I listened to a speaker who reminded me that I do not have to wait for permission to be me and that includes still living with dystonia. The truth is that the world is actually waiting for me to step into my shoes and be the best version of myself and as easily as it is for me to write this, I can assure you that there is a process to doing that and again experience has taught me that the process that leads to growth and personal improvement is usually never a walk in the park but I have since learned that most times success comes dressed in coveralls. The default nature is to have everything handed to me with me doing the least amount of work, but hey! I just have to put in the work. Disabuse my mind of all what I previously tagged as valuable even when the result is like having a yard sale with no cost tags attached, Amusingly, I have found myself in situations where I am vociferously trying to convince myself that the result I see is not simply a product of my efforts. Garbage in, garbage out!

There is a darkness and force that consistently strives to put out my light however my permission is needed for there to be a ’Lights Out!’ and I refuse to permit that, rather I am doing more to reignite the flames within and cause me to be a stronger source of light to myself and others that I am blessed to encounter. In order to be the best version of myself, I have signed executive orders – I commit to learning more; reading materials that align with upward growth, doing a yard sale for my ego and actually walking the talk regardless of how long that walk just might be…….I do have a rollator anyway.  Browsing through the past and actually reinstating activities that hitherto, I felt were not just for me. Besides, what better way to influence the associations I keep other than living what I often have glibly spoken of. Doing just that in itself will definitely attract the associations that will assist me in bringing about change that is both inevitable but desperately needed.

I chose to end the past year by commencing the new one with an authorized acknowledgement and visible evidence that I am committed to this journey. I can only keep what not just attracts me but will definitely bolster me. Building new bridges and new relationships along with nurturing those that have been very impactful to me. This is more than a competition for recognition but rather a determined campaign to be more accountable to myself and others who have achieved more than they could ever have imagined. So welcome to Team Ubuntu because I can only be a subset of who my associations are. And of-course I welcome the opposition because therein do I find some affirmation that I am doing right. And even when it seems like there are more things to complain about, I choose to focus on the few things that resonate the dream within me. My focus is defined and determined by me because I already know that I was created for a noble purpose, and so still I choose to apply Script’cure because the storms will come but I am definitely ready and rather than throw in the towel, I choose to die where I stand as I press on.

The most inspiring people are not those measured by society’s definition of success but rather those who have consistently used what they have been blessed with to bless others. I am going to be more than just an inspiration but also an example. And for you who thinks nobody sees you, I do see you and rest assured there is more than enough room beside me, come on and with prayer and hard-work, we will leave a legacy that will be an attestation that we are only as strong and valuable as we have been tagged by He who resides in the heavens but yet presides over the affairs of men.

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!

The Loss & The Pain…

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Wear it well

It’s still so unreal…31 days ago precisely I received a call with information that could have been phrased better (but semantics aside, we get to choose to be kind or mean, compassionate or manipulative). 31 days exactly and my life has forever been inexorably altered, not knowing how scarred I am, I do know I’m not the same person.

For 2 decades and 4 couples, I’ve always asked myself ‘what would Jesus do?’. Now I can’t seem to do that or mebbe my ears have copped out on me (something on this body seems to give in every other day currently) and I just need to be louder. He is sovereign (and was man too) and His reason for calling you home is not one I’d think of asking. Nonetheless, it’s pointless cos I know my mind lacks the ability to comprehend His reason but still I trust. As the veils start coming down, I still hear you say, ‘Edu, you’re my son. Everyone can’t be like you.’

Mommy, I tried! Wiped off the derision spat at me in the last decade, ignored the haters and toiled as much as I could. You represented the glue, you walked the talk even though you were far from perfect like everyone else. Mommy, I forgave cos I was forgiven. I addressed needs when I saw them despite your reproach, ‘You know you need all the money you can get!’ but I’ve always lived by a different set of rules anyway. You taught me to be kind and compassionate but you also made it clear, each life has its own path.

The friends I was contemptuously told would abandon me are still here till this day, and I’m grieving hard because I erroneously believed my heart couldn’t be broken, pandering to the false notion of machismo. Nose to the grinding mill, I persevered like the orphan with no one to call family. Through the darkness, there was always the flicker of a candle spurring me not to give up. Now the dam is breached, irreparably I fear and I acknowledge my heart wasn’t ready because even with the odds and limitations, I try to assuage the pain by praying you know that I really tried my best.

Mommy, you said fighting doesn’t make you a man but the truth is that as a man, you must fight. And even though I’m confident that He who began the work in you has perfected it,, why can’t this gnawing hurt and sadness ease so I can breathe? Even as I look at the unbalanced scale, I hope I made you proud. I hope you see the plans, God willing, I had for you. I hope that even as I grapple with your tragic exit, you’re alive in me. But even though I was able to tell you how much I loved you, it still doesn’t bring the relief I crave.

Your wings were ready, my heart wasn’t so I still struggle to give peace a chance, that was your final mission. And forgive me if I don’t turn the other cheek because I see how quickly the vultures and hyenas lie in wait. Know this mommy, the wicked will have no peace and for the sake of He who hath called me, I will yet look to the hills for strength and I pray that I’m not consumed by this unrighteous rage. Rest in peace because you earned it but nothing can fill this void caused by your exit, still I will trudge on and ask that you guide me lest I give in to the darkness that beckons to me.

Thank you mommy, for making me who I am and teaching me that knowing the ‘who’ will always trounce the ‘how’. Adieu mommy and rest from your labors. I love you but miss you more, Edu.