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.

The Reverberation of Silence…

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I’ve felt silence, I’ve known it for quite some time but this is so different. Cold, long tendrils wrapping around my soul. This is so different, it’s reverberation is deafening, drowning out all other noises. It’s cold and far from being ethereal. Definitely unwelcome, it’s forced its way in, flaunting and taunting, teasing but staying out of reach. This isn’t the night, this pushes the night just a tad longer and I remind myself that the day is still out there and so weary I may be, that’s the hope I cling to even as the choppy waters churn all around me. Hope seems little but it’s borne my weight so many times.

You can rest easy, mommy

How could it be real, unexpected and unwilling to negotiate? Why does it seem as though the cacophony of the cicadas and the tweet of the birds sound so out of rhythm? Whys cloud my thoughts and their sheer weight force me to my knees. I’ve been knocked down so many times so I’ll try and rise to my feet again even though there’s some comfort in the ground but that’s not what you embodied. Self-belief, esteem, being unstoppable, letting go of the reins and just feeling the wind all around me but it’s still dark and I know I’ll never get the explanation I should seek. The words I’ve used before now sound so shallow to me and though they evade me, your lessons still stand out.

Countless times, you gave of yourself, not once holding back and even in our differences, you still commanded the respect you so rightly earned and nobody could ever hold it back. A matriarch in every letter of the word, that’s who you were. Reminding me that being different was also good when being different sometimes meant taking that unbeaten path. As long as you saw the positive impact on my life, you never thought it twice. Giving and giving and given but the scales are uneven, why am I short? Every laborer is deserving of her wages, who’s fit to collect yours.

‘Stand for something’, you’d always say. ‘Embrace change because life and change are almost synonymous.’ ‘Go out there and from your experiences, pick that which suits you best’. Knowing that you raised us right, you were liberal even when loving meant punishing. Now I think I have a clue to some of your utterances – ‘nobody is perfect’, ‘we’re all flawed in one-way or the other but ensure to make your life count for something’ are a few that readily come to mind. You were there whenever I called and so I know this silence isn’t the evil to be scared of. It’s just the feeling that gnaws at my heart as I stare at this unbalanced scale, not able to do more now. Could I have asked for a better mother? That I can confidently answer.


Now I stare in consternation at the fragility of life and I know you lived for something – you lived for your brood. Unafraid that we would be snatched up by the birds of prey because of how grounded you made me. And now even though I know that those scales can never even out but still I must carry on the legacy you represented – that dignity and honor isn’t about what you can buy but what you choose to attain. A lifestyle unique in its own way. So I must pass on more than you taught, without repugnance in any form. Yes it’s hard to turn the other cheek but it’s not about what I think is right but to do what is right irrespective of interpretation or perspective. You made your brood your life work and now as you rest in the room well prepared for you in heaven, I choose to honor you by acknowledging that apologizing doesn’t make me the smaller man.

Of the many lives you so passionately shaped, I can still hear the anguish as your absence sinks in. Encouraging and understanding, you were never a pit boss whose skill was in the dexterity of her card shuffling. You hated gambling anyway but I must acknowledge that you raised 6 kids in arguably one of the roughest cities and today we all stand in different cities and continents to honor you. That is what you deserve at the very least. Thank you mommy! For all the sacrifice, ‘thank you”. For all the pain unwillingly caused, ‘I’m sorry mommy’ but now I still hear you say, ‘not everyone can be like you but remember that all of God’s creation have one head just as you do.’

Adieu mommy! Let us take this on and run with it so that generations ahead will have a piece of you in their hearts. I love you, rest easy!

A Measure of Anger…..

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Little stone bridge

Woke up feeling bruised and nostalgic, then my eyes fell on a pair of camo pants that I received as an exchange gift when I had the opportunity of working with some operators from the Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK). A reminder of who I used to be, what I wanted to be and who I have become and I thought it rather whimsical as I also remembered the Norwegian fairy tale of the three Billy goats Gruff. In times such as these, I grapple with the mystery of human life and the lonesome way it gets when you feel all by yourself and then you are confronted with several options but the choice of just one. You play it over and over in your head wondering at the possible outcomes and their relationship to where you are currently. Taking a swan dive of the cliff edge into the water below….

Four characters (3 billy goats – Gruff Sr, Gruff, Gruff Jr and a nasty troll), a stone bridge separating hunger and satisfaction and a fast-flowing river; a fairy tale with lots of ‘what ifs’. Now Billy goats are averse to water but the bridge offered them safety and oh boy, were they hungry but all that separated them from assuaging their hunger was the little stone bridge….and what lurked beneath it. But alas, there’s always more to life than meets the eyes and several versions of this tale plays in our lives. We must look beyond the stifling and overwhelming pressure of our immediate circumstances and search out that glimmer of hope. However the finest of roses must be cleverly taken from its bed of thorns. Trolls still exist and right from the Aesop tales, they have never capitulated to the many wishes that they would give up their odious nature and just for once be a friend.

We largely know that desperate times call for desperate measures because it was a well known fact that beneath that tiny bridge spanning the gap between a need and its solution, in this case hunger and abundance, lurked a troll who gobbled up everything that tried to cross that bridge. I’m pretty sure the word ‘bully’ resonates with the mention of the troll. As the hunger pangs grew in the bellies of the goats, they strategized and came up with a plan; a plan just as bold as it was daring. The youngest goat, Gruff Jr made its way, frightened to its core, across the bridge and true as was expected, out popped the troll threatening to gobble up the kid billy. ‘Oh dear troll, I’m but the youngest of 3 and judging by your size, I doubt if I would satisfy you however if you let me pass then my older brother who is bigger than me would come along and you can have your fill with him.’

With that, the troll’s greed was stoked and he let him pass. The same thing played out with the 2nd Billy Gruff who also pointed out the seemingly senseless point of gobbling him up when the largest Billy Gruff would more than satisfy the troll. So right as rain, two members of the Gruff family made it across unharmed. Oh how excited the troll was, he had waited this long and was going to get his hunger completely assuaged. Prancing back and forth he caught sight of Billy Gruff Sr and knew then that patience was truly a virtue regardless of who practices it. With nothing to lose, Billy Gruff Sr with just a hint of trepidation in his steps began the obviously terrifying walk across the bridge. As the troll hopped about in excitement, the Billy Gruff Sr picked up his steps into a canter and before the troll could interpret the situation, Gruff Sr lowered his head and rammed his horns with all his strength right into the thick hide of the troll. With a loud shriek of pain and an even louder splash, the troll was thrown off the bridge and safely all 3 were united and ate their fill of the luscious grass as the troll was swept away by the stream.

Trust

As I look at today’s circumstances, I’m forced not just to acknowledge the despair but also the fear that comes with despair. But like the Gruffs, I choose each day to put the fear aside and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel or the solution on the other side. In choosing to believe in myself, I realize that most times, we are thoroughly equipped to face whatever situation life throws at us. It’s just a question of fear or faith; what dominates our thoughts and actions. There will always be trolls, be they naysayers or haters, but what matters the most is we must choose faith over fear or remain petrified, unable to move. There’s no temptation that comes our way that catches God unaware, and that includes covid-19, the novelty of the virus is no different than the dystonia and myoclonus that is trying so hard to stupefy me but nonetheless God promises us a way out if only we can listen and be obedient.

Now I’m in no way diminishing the severity of our circumstances, I’m just saying there’s always a way to see the brightness of the sun – be it in the form of obeying public health guidelines, assisting others safely and just doing the simple things but more importantly realizing that there’s refuge, protection, provision and wisdom in the city of righteousness with God as its Sovereign Ruler. Two words – Trust and Obey, no vagueness or ambiguity in their definition. We have used them many times but now is the time to walk the talk, and therein lies the difference. Am I going to pile up more nights and shut out the light of day or endure each night whilst anticipating the joy that comes with the day because as long as there’s night then the day must come, regardless of whether it’s daylight saving or not?

It’s no fluke of nature or a decision by the constellation of stars that we are where we are and yes it’s a far cry from what we imagined but if we begin by being grateful that we aren’t what we used to be then that’s a good start. Let the rage be stoked until we do something positive, because by our actions, we inadvertently make the path less burdensome for those coming behind us. A merry heart is good medicine for the body but the joy of that simple phrase is that though our bodies be broken and held together by duct tape and soldering lead, our hearts cannot be reached unless we hand it over. We can rail at the circumstances all day but I bet that it achieves nothing so why devote energy to the things we have absolutely no control over, when we can achieve much more by attending to the little things we can change.

Lord, grant me the serenity to submit the things I cannot change to You, the strength to change what I can and the wisdom to tell the two apart!

עד שניפגש שוב, אני מתפלל שפרצופו יאיר עליך לטובה!
Adios!

SOAR

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A poem composed and written by the Red Phoenix. Gives me such an honor to share it with you.

My place is in hitherto uncharted territories

SOAR


“The sky’s the limit,”
My mom says
“Aim for the moon,”
My dad says

My expectations are high
But I still want to be
The bird that learns how to fly

Opportunities are limitless
Barriers can be broken down
Time won’t be on our side
To help save the memories stolen

The world is my stage
And I am a beacon of light
Called to clear all darkness
With God’s holy name

I choose to let go of the railing
The doubts and the no’s
The disbelief written all over their faces
I want to let it all go

With one push
Both hands off
Suspended mid-air
I SOAR

– Red Phoenix

Year 2020

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I’m absolutely delighted to post this piece from my daughter……the better version of me by all standards!

Many people think 2020 should be forgotten, but this is actually the most important year of our lives. This is the year that will force us to overcome the spirit of slumber. This is the year that yells for us to acknowledge the pain that people of color have to endure. This is the year that forces us to identify the different point of views that have been ignored because we refuse to embrace equality and change. This is the year that fuels the passion within, waiting for the moment to build up and pour out onto the streets…

Into the hearts of the Justice System….

Into the hearts of our everyday neighbors.

The heart of humanity.

This is the year that all voices will rise up while the passion behind the words will touch every soul on the earth. This is the year that we will stand up and march alongside each other to the beat of our hearts. The same hearts that were created by our lord Jesus Christ. This is the year of hope; the year to remember!

Written by Red Phoenix

What’s Normal?……

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What next?


‘Daddy, have you written anything recently?’ This has become almost a chant from my daughter and it is quite difficult explaining the oft frequently encountered hassles associated with writing however it brings me much joy as I see her scribbling away (writing yet another poem) in the middle of a television show usually our attempt to catch up with what’s going on. Nope, it’s no sabbatical but it just seems the right thing to do in a world where the word ‘normal’ has become a concept to understand each new day. Just like watching the birth pains of a mother-to-be, I know that we’re yet in the middle of the birth of a new season as consternation is etched on the brows of so many, nonetheless I know just like I live and breathe, that with every season, we will most certainly emerge changed in so many ways. I have refused to write because in so many times – past and present, I have treasured the silence and the physical companionship of the few I am honored to call friends in the midst of really adverse times.

Where and how did we get here? A question I have asked myself countless times in the past and the issues are real; we have become overwhelmed by the inordinate desires of a few strategically placed individuals. However seeking to understand their thought process will just be a journey in a gigantic maze; every turn and twist leading us further into a labyrinth that seemingly has no end. I live with hope inexhaustible because of the invaluable sacrifice of The Cross and The Death, and because of that, there need not be and can not be any more death worthy of such an impact. Like the guard asleep at his watch point, we have been beset by contemporary issues that have their origins in centuries past. Issues that were never really entirely dealt with. Now they emerge from the woodwork, no longer taking solace in the darkness but strutting around in full glare, and the consequences are in play today.

I pray most sincerely for the lives lost needlessly and I have sat in silence with grieving ones as they try to make sense of a seemingly senseless situation. I know it, I have lived it, I still live it but while the end might not seem in sight, in my heart I know that an end looms but that’s not what needs to be said at the moment. I can only grieve with the hundreds of thousands, casualties of pride and ignorance. Destruction comes hastily on the heels of ignorance and the liberty which has been so casually taken for so long now is being seen clearly and the huge expense with which it was obtained. Thrust in the churning waters of an unbridled waterfall, we can only pray and act in faith, trusting that we are not plunging headfirst to our deaths even as we grasp for something to hold on to. Numbers are no longer just digits, they represent lives; lives that were paid for by the costliest of sacrifices. As mortals, we are grossly incapable of creating lives so it is a profound responsibility to treat every life not unctuously but with some modicum of respect.

Hope exists!

Dystonia; an unwelcome company reluctantly refusing to cooperate or at the very least go its own way independent of mine, yet I still have more issues beset me and I am learning new tricks even as my knees creak with each step I take, I am confident that there is purpose to it all. It definitely doesn’t appear to make any sense still but there must be hope in purpose otherwise we will be trodden to death underfoot by the rushing masses seeking to escape this unrelenting and inevitable global confusion. This truth I share as often as I can, ‘wherever you’re today, you were placed there for a reason; either to teach or learn!’ however if the intoxicating fumes of power and wealth rob you of reason, it’s an exercise in futility to think that nothing will change. Woe betide those who have lost all reason and have gotten inebriated on what they know nothing about; let those who think they stand be careful because their fall will be catastrophic.

I am glad that even in the chaos, there’s always something to be grateful for and I am grateful for a lot – for the Zoom call with all my siblings after almost 7years of ‘each man to his/her tent’, I am thankful that I am alive and can still be a friend to that one individual who thinks they’re in it all by themselves. I am thankful that God has given me friends that have transcended friendship to brotherhood, always ready to pick me up when I cry out but most importantly I am thankful that I have a God who knows my name despite being Sovereign over all things, I am grateful that not a hair on my head falls to the ground without His knowledge and permission (I’m beginning to really thin on the crown of my head…). He is The One who I go to for refuge and solace because I have since given up on trying to understand the ‘whys’. So hear me out, amidst the grief and loss and the murkiness of today’s uncertainties. I am grateful that now I can empathize more than before and act with knowledge. I am grateful for my brother who suffered a mild stroke and is fully recovered because I know illness is no small burden but like the stone skipping across the waters, there’s always ripples spreading out to those around you.

Today I say that all I need, all I’ve ever needed was and is still ‘You, Lord!’ and amidst the indefinable moments that’s all you need too because there can be no life if there is no hope. Regardless of where you are at this moment, all we need is Him. I say this despite those who think of me with scorn or those who treat or have treated me with varying levels of insouciance, I can’t be the perfect person no matter how hard I may try so kindly tolerate my idiosyncrasies (you don’t know the journey I’m currently on). If you see a need, you can do something about it; give less thought to the size of your actions or whether they’ll be appreciated, just do what you need to and move onto the next life in the ladder of lives we each are honored to come across in our life journey.

Remember that even in the valley of dry bones, hope lives and all we need do is cling to that hope because He knows your every hurt, and circumstances be damned, He is most assuredly actively involved in the affairs of man which inextricably encapsulates all of the issues which plague you and me. Time like everything else can be contextual or seen from a perspective so know that His delays are by no means denials, it would be much more lighter when we succumb to His call and leading. There’s hope eternal and it exists only in Him. Even when I don’t see or feel that He is working, He never stops – the very same applies to you too!

עד שניפגש שוב, אני מתפלל שפרצופו יאיר עליך לטובה!

Adios!

Contentment….

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What does it really mean to be content? Because I opine that you cannot be what you do not understand and so yesterday was another sore reminder that contentment is a function of the relationship you have with One who is everything and a total submission to His Will not yours. Considering I cut my teeth in the banking sector, I abhor banks because they are and always will be ‘the merchant of Venice’ and yesterday brought that bile to the fore.

Contentment isn’t about what you’re able to gather, it’s knowing that regardless of how good or bad a day is, provision, security, purpose comes from God. And He’s no man that is variable or besmirched by the brush strokes of unfaithfulness. And so when days come around that seem to nullify the effort you put into it, it serves us well to remember that there’s just One approval that counts. If He’s not complaining, why should we? In order to change someone’s story, we should have a life that displays a changed story or else it’s akin to peddling what you don’t even have.

Today, I’m thankful for another new day. Yesterday’s over and done with and so it’s time to choose; wallow and deprecate about yesterday or stand tall and ready to do something new today. I choose the latter even when it seems natural for me to feel bad. For every new day, I’m thankful at the end because I choose to search for the light in an ordinarily dark day. It’s actually that simple but difficult however there’s strength to keep it simple and I pray you encounter that strength today.

Adios!

Keeping Up Appearances..

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2020

“A friend who understands your tears is much more valuable than a lot of friends who only know your smile.” I do remember my first lesson in gratitude when as a kid, I really did not like the pair of shoes that I was told to put on and with a stern look, my father said, “Someday, you will come across a man who has no feet and then you will appreciate that contentment is a choice.” Those words certainly popped up more times than I can count as I grew up and even though there were several occasions I chose wrongly however thank God for second chances.

It is the beginning of not just another year but specifically it is the beginning of another decade and I am truly grateful to be blessed because chance happens to everyone but not everyone has the ability to utilize life’s chances. Every year, I try to spend the first moments, the first minutes, the first hour in being thankful and then it is off to the races as I attempt to implement the personalized theme for that year. This year was just a tad different because I was confined to my bed for almost 2 straight weeks and so I had to be resourceful even as every move brought a groan of intense agony. Regardless of the limitations of my circumstances and some, it was time to ensure that I was on D (drive) not Park or Neutral and just power through.

What is that (in)famous quote of insanity? ‘Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity or folly’ and so just as the year in itself is unique with lots of mystery, it is therefore important that the past has been reviewed so that the past remains history (moving on with lessons learned) as I deal with the present and look ahead faithfully for the best future yet. No resolutions for me, just a decision to make this year better than the past years and unfortunately that includes backing away from what I would normally (and often bullishly) tackle. The default nature of man is to address people based on their appearance however with the surge of social media, appearances are often a far cry from reality. Is it my decision to be a better sleuth or discerner of people’s intent? Most definitely not, my decision is to separate fact from truth, fiction from fantasy by learning more; meaning that I need to listen more than I speak.

Worry and complain are definitely not on my list of traveling companions, they just suck out the joy of today and deflate the enthusiasm of hope; hope of a better future. I choose to literally implement the words of a young lady who means the world and so much more to me, “stop stressing yourself!” and ironically I have always categorized myself as one who never stressed – talk about how others except yourself see your actions! So instead of thinking that I am not stressing, I am forging a new path by making sure that I am relaxed and chill come what may. 357 days yet to come, each day completely enshrouded with its portion of blessings and evils, with little or nought to do but pray and trust God. My decision is to find and embrace the serenity that comes with each new day, regardless of how little a portion it might be. I choose to accept that the future is such a delight that fabulous really does not capture it, and so my appearance this year is more of what is going on inside me rather than what the eyes can clearly see.

Taking cognizance of the fact that I am flawed and imperfect, yet I choose not to dwell on those imperfections but rather strive to become better each day; forgive more, offend less, be more accessible and vulnerable. This year, I commit to leaving the past behind, with its share of hurts and resentment in order to walk lighter and see a horizon much more clearer than it ever was. I admit that the journey did not even begin comfortably but I am grateful that I can repair what can be mended, discard that which cannot be fixed and truly number my days with wisdom. Thank you for being a part of my journey and I may not know your name however I am thankful for the privilege of encountering you. Together, let us make this year our best year yet albeit in little gestures but more importantly let us learn to live.

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

Adios!

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!