…treasure in the trash!

Standard

Image result for tossing it out

Life, like I constantly say, is a journey and like every other journey, it has got its fair share of twists, curves, bad patches, lonely stretches and quite a few ‘unprepared for’ events that occur. Most of us start out in life believing what we were told, not necessarily because we experienced it and so most times when we have our own unique encounters, it almost seems as though we probably might have been served a slightly garnished portion of truth. And then we go into those dreadful places where we think the isolation will take away the pain, but in all fairness, the process of living encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly. What we decide to run with will always be the choice we make, regardless of whether it was ‘an uninformed’ choice or not.

It is so seared in my memory, that I think it probably might show up on an MRI scan of my brain, the very moment when I was about walking into the consulting room of one of the most brilliant neurosurgeons in the world. I do not know if we each have those moments where everything seems to be perfectly captured in a still shot. Photography has always been and will always be a hobby of mine and where I defer from the modern world of perfect shots is in the fact that the best shots are captured when the subject is least aware of what is taking place. I do remember that was the very first time of ever hearing the words; “this is dystonia….it is a rare and incurable condition”. That I did not gasp was not about proper conduct or the presence of my kid sibling, it was me reverting to my default setting, applying sheer will and the relief of finally getting an answer to the myriad of questions that had been plaguing me

Till date, I remember the side glances, usually of pity as I struggled to teach myself how to still make the best of life. I still remember the words barely concealing their unbelief but very transparent in their lack of support when I really needed it the most. However we go through life, never really understanding why we pass through situations until it finally clicks that it was all in preparation for this moment decades after. Being the 3rd of 6 kids, I learned at an early age that being in the middle really puts you in a bit of dilemma – you are either too young to hang out with the older ones or too old to hang out with the younger ones. And so I learned how to make my life count for something that I would value as against attempting to fit in. This choice has actually made who I am and till date, it is a daily habit – choosing how to see a completely different perspective of any circumstance.

Nobody is born great, if you want to be different, you take the tools at your disposal and work at being different. That, I can assure you is not a walk in the park because in the park, everyone is doing something, some are seating, some are cycling or walking, some are feeding the pigeons but everyone is there for a unique reason and some of those reasons might conflict with yours or compliment yours. Now I am yet to ever go to the park because I want to engage in nothing, that is akin to saying that standing still makes time stand still too. It never will, and so every decision we make either propels us forward or drags us back. I have also learned that nobody can ever walk in your shoes and just like my daughter was telling me that her running shoes were getting tight, I have to choose to listen to her because it is about her feet and the comfort of wearing the right fit, besides she cannot wear mine anyway.

At the onset of this battle with myoclonus, I chose to read and digest every snippet of information I could lay my hands on, not for want of something to do but because I knew that choices would abound and so I needed to be ready to make the choices that would be for me not for my neighbor who could bound up and down the stairs 10 times faster than I would do in just one solitary trip. I learned that there was no shame in asking for help even though I struggled with pride and ego (two things that if not properly categorized would do you in). I learned that even though there were times I could barely afford it, I needed to make my regular appointments with the team of medical experts that dystonia calls for. I learned to listen to my chiropractor talk about new approaches. I also learned that if it walked for Nichol, when he gleefully talked about it in our National Dystonia Society meetings, it was not necessarily a green light for me. I learned that I needed to embrace reality in order to discover newer ways of doing old things.

As I write this, I remember painfully chronicling every head trauma that I had ever experienced. I was not resentful that of 6 kids, I was the only one who had been dealt this card but I would on occasions ask myself if my parents had missed something or I had downplayed the concussion I received in several unrelated events. Faced with such a barrage of questions, it sometimes felt that even though I pride myself a good swimmer, I was in waters that were too choppy to swim in. The ultimate question was what was I to do with this deck of cards life had handed me, continue to look for something to blame or look for newer ways of continuing on my journey. I realize now that the symptoms were always there but just maybe, I did not really understand my parents’ when they said ‘keeping an ailment a secret could cost you your life’ and that ‘hiding ailments is an exercise in futility because the ailment will not return the favour’.

Nothing emerges from the furnace unchanged, and so with every painful burn and relentless bouts of pain, I knew that there was only one person God had given the responsibility to call for a change in game plan – Me! And so the process of embracing dystonia began, not as I embrace friends but so that with each new day, I would continue to forge new ways to go on. I am thankful for the family that God has brought around me, thankful for the international calls, care packages and the best friend who might not be aware of how much of an influence the relationship has aided me. Honestly, being bull headed and direct is definitely not the panacea to every situation but for this battle, I will choke down the pain, stave off the waves of despondency that being in need always brings and just choose the perspective that gives me the opportunity to see the glimmer of light regardless of how tiny it might be.

I remember how it feels giving a baby his first bath at your hands, you just cannot give room to all the fears and doubts that anxiously await. Do what you have to do confidently because if you do fail then you have just learned another way of not doing it. My response to ‘how are you doing?’ will always be “it is a brand new day and for that I am thankful!’ and when events muddy up the water, I will find the strength to toss it out lest it festers and becomes more debilitating and hazardous to my well-being. When I stare at my medication holder, and wonder when it became a part of my dressing, I remind myself that time holds all seasons and this too is a season. When the bills pile up and the notices flood in, I remind myself that worrying is so much action but with so little relevant movement. Today is a new day, out with the old and in with the new!

Remember that the best gems are found deep in the dirt and so deep within you lies a treasure of inestimable worth, but you do have to do away with the sneering glances, the spiteful looks, the scathing comments and get it out because that is what is going to make your life journey more purposeful and meaningful to not just you but to every life that you are privileged to encounter.

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

Adios!

….bathing in the rain!

Standard

Image result for bathing in the rain

It is exactly 12 years to this day that I unilaterally took a leave of absence from my cozy job with one of the globally recognised brands in the banking/financial industry to sign up at the orientation/boot camp for the Direct Short Service Corp into the Navy. To many, it would have come across as an act bordering on the vestiges of insanity but for me, I had become completely fed up with the monotony of the regular 9 – 5 and just needed something more adventurous. Being put through the paces was no exercise for the faint-hearted especially after the daily wailing of the bugle interrupted whatever respite I was trying to have. Nonetheless, this was what I wanted.

Today, I have no regrets because from that decision, my life took on so many twists and turns that being in a maze would not be too much of a stretch for the mind. Five years after that decision, my neurological system opted to become autonomous and I plunged headfirst into an unfamiliar world of neuroscience, neurologists, dystonia, myoclonus, sciatica, insomnia. Pain, both external and internal, became constant companions and suddenly my to-do list which included setting up funds for my daughter up to university levels suddenly became just a scrap note. Struggling to understand what and how I had started occupying a niche in the opposite extreme from the fiercely independent, highly analytical and logical fellow to becoming someone who pride meant little or nothing to as I struggled with the simplest of tasks like getting out of bed. It seemed as though there were myoclonus triggers hidden behind every simple chore

I can still recall how unreal it sounded (returning from my weekly visit to the chiropractor) as I boarded a crowded Bus 379 from Ilford to Dagenham, when the driver (bless her soul) turned around in her seat and announced “could somebody please get up and give this disabled man a seat.”….Oh yes, she was referring to me and even though I still did not see myself as being disabled, that was me and the picture people saw. It is kind of crazy when you have these flashbacks and suddenly huge waves of nostalgia tend to drown you. How did I get here? What happened to the detailed plan I had? But there I was, all alone, each day a constant battle raging within my soul as I strove to overcome the limitations of my physical strength. Mind over matter! Mind over matter! The mantra did not seem as easy as it was when I wrote it down or told someone else.

Fast forward to this day, I can attest how topsy-turvy this journey has been and I mark today as a notable one because it has always been about the choices God helped me make each day. Refusing to give into the waiting arms of hopelessness and depression, realising that my life meant more to some other person besides me, that even when the clouds were so dark that it could pass for midnight and the gales of the biting cold winter buffeted me so much, I just had to persevere some more even if it meant calling out to or accepting the help of a stranger. Today, I realise that as many strangers came up to me to thank me for inspiring them, they were infact the very ones who were a source of inspiration to me. Strategically placed by God for times when I wanted to just give up, today they are my family.

From those dark days, the light now shines and yes there are still dark days (obviously) but I look around and realise that the options I had back then are still the same two – quit and sink or struggle as hard as I could and stay afloat. We all go through life and what we eventually become is a reflection of the everyday choices you and I make. That the very bleak times we sometimes face can either be a garment that we get lost in or we can use them as the opportunity to train our eyes to see that tiny glimmer of light ahead. We could use those times to lose the individuality of our person or we could use them to further understand that to every limit and constraint, we still get to call the shot because we all were created for a purpose. We could use those times to understand that we were not created to walk alone as against using it as a benchmark for all the bitterness and pent-up resentment just looking for an outlet.

I woke up today, realising that when it is pouring outside – it presents an ample opportunity for me to just get out there and wash off the grime that has built up from listening to the wrong people. To wash off the grime that comes from basing my actions on thinking that my efforts will always be appreciated. To wash off the grime that comes from succumbing to the heat of the moment and letting scathing words do damage, if I choose to. To wash off the grime that comes from engaging in thankless tasks and expecting other people to be grateful for what I do. Today, as always, I choose not to stop because these very ones are there unwittingly to further propel me to heights yet unknown. The rain will always pour, what we see it as and what we do with it is best left to each person. Notwithstanding what we do with it, it will surely rain and as each peal of thunder reverberates through the heavens and the lightening slashes through the skies, it is up to us to choose on what side of the line we want to stand and live.

Remember that it is in the house of sorrow that much wisdom is learnt and it is in the times of adversity that you best count your friends. For on this journey called life, there will always be a meeting and a farewell and so make every opportunity an event that will never be forgotten.

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

Adios!

….into the foray!

Standard

It really has been a crazy period. So much time has seemingly passed with so little achieved and so, desperate measures call for desperate times. It is time to jump feet first into the foray. All around me are signs and banners saying ‘you are just another hamster in a hamster wheel’ and honestly it sure feels like that most days and so shaking off the lethargy requires more than bringing the wheel to a stop, it means I have to get outside the box and do things differently.

What are the connotations to being different? I dare say that the connotations by themselves are the prerequisite to achieving one of the greatest compliments in life – ‘you are different!’ and if that is the only thing etched on my headstone, then I did accomplish something. The true measure of a man’s worth is not by the weight of his money belt or by the size of his fan base or going by recent trends; the number of views on social media, it is by the effect you had on the lives that you were opportuned to interact with. And so this is my way of saying, “tradition has its place in the system of things but creating your own system is the way to go”. Why do I say this, some might ask? Well I say it because I believe it and regardless of how large the naysayers may be, I will stand by my faith.

Loyalty is not as intense a trait or attitude as it used to be, maybe because there has been an enormous shift in who handles responsibilities these modern days. However for the few who understand the true value of life and its demands, it means an enormous deal. So many plagiarists out there, so many wannabes, so many warped reflections and still life with its passage of time continues to keep records of the little events that have such a monumental effect in the lives around us. We are not bound by time in our bid to tick those boxes, instead we are bound by the fear that comes from standing too long at the edge of the cliff.

There is so much out there, so much that can be done….it can only be done by getting out of your comfort zone and stretching just a mite more. It might sound easy but the task lies in the doing. So here I am, not holding back but giving it all that I can summon because I remember this; “in the effort lies victory”.

Adios!

….A Night’s Chronicle

Standard

                                                                                         

“Round and round the garden like a teddy bear…” is one of those childhood rhymes that seemingly defy time. Passed on from generation to generation, it epitomises the innocence of childhood and the desire to enjoy life as we live it. However, as most have found out, life is less of a merry go round or a Ferris wheel but more of a journey with the beginnings not made by personal choice. Life is a journey that begins with child birth and culminates in the transition of life through death. This is made clearer each day by the experiences we encounter, the choices we make and of course the unpredictability of life – each stretch of life followed by a bend and more often than not, what comes at us on the bend is what usually defines who we are and who we get to be.

I have in recent times, being given the opportunity to talk about my struggles with dystonia and myoclonus, the unique but humbling privilege of creating awareness of the neurological disorder termed dystonia. As is often the case, there are always the visible signs on faces as they struggle to come to terms with the words that I speak and so I want to write just a little bit of the battles I face on a daily basis. This is no nursery rhyme, I really wish it was, because most rhymes usually have happy endings based on the fleeting happy nature of most childhood stories.

The uniqueness of the human brain will never be completely understood but somehow I acknowledge that like a finely tuned automobile engine, when something is awry upstairs then seeking fun at a circus is definitely not the fun activity for me. Longing for the usually deserved rest for the human body, my brain is still actively firing away on all fronts; the highway of my nervous system is in a very sensitive state and so I try several supine positions to discover the least uncomfortable. Oh and yes, I definitely have to trick my brain into focusing on something so as to allow it relinquish its hold on my aching body. With my eyes shut, I still feel thoughts bouncing around my head like the hamster on its wheel. The pills kick in but the bad days are dreadful because my brain is just like the race car that has pulled into the pit stop, engine revving on all cylinders.

‘Send in the fire engines, this engine is about to blow a gasket or two…’ is literally apt because even while I try to rest, my brain is literally having a fun day. But alas my brain cannot have a fun day all by itself and so with little activity and response from a body trying to unwind, it becomes that race car with the brakes engaged and the gas pedal to the metal. Hallucinations are not that scary in this context, but somehow just by sheer persistence, I am awakened by the ‘fun’ my brain is intent on having. I definitely need more pit stops but in all honesty, it is a game that I am getting tired of. As the new day is birthed, it just seems like I have been chosen to always chaperone her and when friends comment on my ‘stamina’ and ‘limitless energy’, I choose to take it as a complement because this ship is not going down……not on the watch of Him who I solely depend on

Snatches of sleep when I can are actually victories and though they come in notches of two or three hours, I welcome them. There is a purpose to this life and whilst the vehicle I am in is slowly being worn out, I choose to remind myself that “it is better to wear out than to rust out.” Pills are not the panacea, yes they help but these are situations where the extraordinary becomes the norm. Where the unseen and the unheard become my chosen way of living, where faith is less of a word and more of an act. I make these choices everyday, resolute in my understanding that this is a season and every season has an end. I lift my eyes upwards, beyond the hills because therein comes the strength I need to make each day count.

I have since learned the hard way that sleep and rest might seem synonymous but I can assure you that they are not. With a satchel of pills readily handy, I now waltz through life on my own terms; battered but not defeated, isolated but not alone – itemising with every experience, the triggers that lurk not in the shadows but in the every day activities of human life. I have hitherto stated that without the turmoils of the storm, life really is devoid of substance but for me, every night is a unique experience as I combat the sinewy arms of insomnia. Pain still lingers even though I choose not to accept him as a legal resident within this body.

It is a new day again, replete with all the special needs provisions I require to face each day, with aching joints I embark on today’s journey. Thankful for today, I strap on my accoutrements for this body, arm myself with my cane and indulge myself in a hearty meal for my Spirit because it will always be about the strength on the inside. That is what keeps me going each day as I carefully make my way through paths that have been lavishly decorated with extra sensitive mines, each one poised to knock me down. ‘Fire away’ I chuckle, there is more to me than a chemical imbalance, there’s more to me than trembling limbs, there’s more to me than dystonia……there is so much more.

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

Adios!

….Stripped bare!

Standard

image

Its eerily quiet, you can barely hear the wind whistling by but you can feel it surely. She stands all alone, you can sense the pain of loneliness, her feeling of raw emotion barely checked. It’s almost palpable; the despondency that she holds at bay even as she acknowledges the inevitability of her sorrow. Deep sorrow, coursing through her like the rivulets of a slow flowing stream but still she stands. Grasping with bruised knuckles, the rags of reality that barely cloaks her nudity….yet she stands with head upraised and that steely gleam of resilience in her eyes, because she knows. She acknowledges. She has been there before.

Its fall season, and very soon the biting cold of winter will creep in as surely as the sun shines. She stands unadorned of any finery, yet regal in her posture because she knows that what defines her is not what can be taken away by the whims of life. Like the elderly matriarch at family gatherings, she stands with outstretched arms still and not cowering in fear like all hope is lost. Every scar is visible to the eye, some as recent as today made by the very same that she had readily accommodated in their helplessness. As of today, they are all gone but she knows that in no distant future, some would still find solace beneath her boughs as soon as they encounter the  genuiness of her stability. There are no chirping birds, no scurrying animals, none of the lovebirds with their outspread blanket and picnic basket….they are all gone and even as they pass her, warmly ensconced in their bulky garments, they barely spare her a glance but she knows that despite being stripped bare, soon this season will end.

Below lies the foliage that once was the allure of all eyes, every leaf stripped off her not because she chose to but because life is a stage and we are all cast members, someday we will each have our time on stage and regardless of the role cast on us, we must make every moment count. Nothing can prepare you for the curved balls that life  throws at you but with discernment and past experiences, I know that life is a cycle. Sometimes just as you’re recovering from being sucker punched, you get blindsided yet again but with gritted teeth, teary eyes, you painfully draw in breath and stagger to your feet because you know that your place is not in the dirt. No matter how many times you get knocked down, arise you must or else your role will never be played and what a woeful tale that will be, that you lived a life without purpose.

Now to me personally, the Book of Job is a synopsis of life! Those very things that you once thought defined you could be taken away in an instant and then what would you be left with? Afterall fortunes are lost in the blink of an eye regardless of the safeguards carefully placed, because it never really was yours to keep in the very first place. What a shame if that’s all you are – the temporary possessions and provisions that have been leased to you for the benefit of others. Now some of you have never been knocked down and so with barely concealed contempt, you trot with disdain around those struggling through their knockdowns but I can assure you that life is like the four seasons and you must someday get to experience all the seasons…..and till you do, keep your tongue in cheek because you definitely cannot relate with that pain and anguish someone else might be going through. A life lived is one that is accompanied with precise choices, esteeming others higher than yourself as you make every day count for something.

To my friend struggling with medical issues, to the husband/wife who has been so viciously betrayed by their partner, to the parent with a seriously ailing child, to the addict refusing to give into withdrawal symptoms just for the brief pointless escape, to the chap who just lost his job and just had his only home foreclosed in the same day…..hear me, there’s a reason behind every season and at the very least, see beyond the pain of the instant because your experiences if you choose right will be the panacea to somebody else’s down the lane. How much wisdom can you impart if you have learned nothing or refused to learn? How much care and empathy can you show if you lack the warmth from having walked in those same shoes? Words are but a balm but when accompanied with the requisite action, they become an avenue for hope rekindled. How can you stir up flames from the burning embers of a dying fire if you have never kindled one yourself or known the cold from the lack of a fire?

Life is best lived when we make the right choices, and how do we know what choices exist if you have never encountered and overcome the despair of arriving at a crossroad? Whatever you may be passing through right now is just to strengthen you so that you in turn can strengthen another, for sorrow when shared is halved but joy shared is doubled. Learning to embrace yourself for who He says you are despite the season, is the beginning of a triumphant life. Learning to heal from the hurts of others actions is the beginning of a joyous walk in freedom. Now forgiveness is a divine ability however we do not have to seek it like the Golden Fleece because we were forgiven before we even acknowledged our erring ways. To forget the pain of betrayal, spite and abandonment might not come easy but as you embrace another down your own path, you etch deeper in your heart the knowledge that this is just a season.

Seek to cauterise that wound before it becomes gangrenous. The scars will not disappear but with time they become not just scars only but the marks of triumph gained through persistence and dependence on Him who’s made and called you for a purpose. With each knock down, you realise that rising up is not as difficult as it was the first time……and then you suddenly realise that there is still strength to help another to his feet. It begins with choosing to ignore the fair weather acquaintances  of fame, cheap accolades and sycophancy; and focus on those who are experiencing their own stripping, therein lies a worthier cause. Gather your garments around you and stand to your feet, let that gleam come alive in your eyes as you look around and become a conduit of hope and comfort to someone else.

Remember “Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, for then we can better appreciate the times when those trees will abound with fruits”

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

 Adios!

….Ubuntu!!!

Standard

image

There will never be the ideal time, that’s a myth in itself….we make out time for what counts to us (either by true perception or by sentiment, preferably the former) and the last few weeks have been a sad reminder of that. Just like Professor Dumbledore of Hogwarts in the fictional Harry Potter world, so many thoughts (like his memories so brilliantly captured in the movies) have been swirling round and round like a colourful kaleidoscope in this fascinating display I reserve in my mind. Special thanks to two outstanding individuals for being my muse this time around because I only needed to start with a word and they each in their own way nudged my hands. The Zeal behind Graeme Blaque and The Earl of Dunbroch (someday I’ll be honoured to be your guest).

Remarkably, I’ve been really occupied with stuff ranging from the inevitable daily unrelenting battles with myoclonus to the fervour of parenting combined with participating in putting together a reunion of my peers from College after 3 decades of that first encounter in the age long halls of our alma mater. And nothing so truly brings to life this truth that “Men and women are like wine, age bettering the good and souring the bad”. Needless to say that in every association, there will always be the good, the bad and the ugly (mind you, the latter actually comprises the first two and looks never really count). The task is aspiring to keep the balance tilted in the favourable position of the good or how else will change be wrought if we allow the seemingly natural dictate of today’s world, that so readily celebrates the bad and stultifies the emergence of good, to become the norm.

My buddy, The Earl so graciously shared this and with his tacit approval, I do same.

‘An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruits near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he gave them the signal to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they chose to run as a group when they could have had more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said “UBUNTU, how can one of us be be happy if all the others are sad?”…’

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa (Zulu) culture means: “I am because we are”

Now to many, this is just another of those many tales that gets hardly read before its so quickly shared on the scary and grossly misused world of social media but permit me to do what life has taught me, moreso since being diagnosed….it’s always in the details!

We have witnessed the birth of more than two generations now; the Generation X and the millennial so and so suffice to say that we have inadvertently been thrust into the world of imparting and mentoring but the question that begs answering is what can you give if you’ve got nothing. With the euphoria of reconnecting with so many distinguished individuals who inevitably played a role in making us who we’ve become, it’s very easy to get caught up in the rip tide of a river that’s been dammed for over 25 years and is now opened up. Nostalgic memories, childhood pranks, mischief and some choices that still haunt us today, like many of today’s kids, we had our own fill but now inexorably, roles are reversed and we have to give back…willingly or unwillingly, the choice is yours.

It is with a profound sense of pride that I can see representatives and peers strategically placed all over the world. From the glossy pages of the Forbes magazine to the pages of a cuisine book. From the oil wells in North America to the swampy but rich oil oilfields of the Niger Delta. From the sterile wards and surgical theatres of the best hospitals in developed countries to the derelict and abandoned communities in 3rd world countries where the almost forgotten are being taught community medicine. From the rapidly skimming boats and choppers conveying Safety Professionals and operatives from platform to platform to the Entrepreneurs slogging it out daily through chaotic traffic striving to grow their businesses. From the corporately dressed executives walking the halls of financial institutions in West Africa and Europe to the Stock Trader on the London trading grounds. From the literary uprisers to the parent who despite the looming recession, caters to the needs of their kids and home by whatsoever means possible. From the Metropolitan London Officer to the Investigator in West Africa. From the school administrators & teachers to the Optometrist working with kids in Europe, I can go on and on however just like a burst of pollen, we have all been dispersed by fate on the winds of life to wherever we find ourselves today.

Needless to say that we are who we are because we were inadvertently influenced by the lives that so sublimely surrounded us then and still surrounds us today. Now despite the frenetic and fragmented picture that today’s society shows us, we dare not stop fighting for positive change and development. It is so easy to believe that we are, simply because we did! Now that in itself sounds weird because no man is an island. We weather storms each day, and each day just like I do, I pick myself up regardless of how bruised I may be and I choose. I choose to reach out and grab just one more hand, grab that hand to pull someone else along towards the finish line because there is so much desolation out there and people just need to see that someone else cares. I have seen and experienced compassion from the strangest of places and the least expected however each tiny gesture aided me in making the choices by which I live today.

Now, life comprises season and every action proves a response or a reaction; equal or not. Now is the time for us to give back. Now is the time to reach across time and space, get someone else’s hands and pull each other towards fulfilment. Or how comfortable would you be with a stomach distended and engorged with the niceties of life while right across you, a homeless starving person is in your line of sight. Again, it’s a choice that has to be made but this thought I bring to you that notwithstanding where you are, what you are, the hue of your skin, the texture,tone or accent of your spoken words;  there’s but one common denominator to us all humans and that is, we all bleed red! No greater unifying factor than the blood that courses through our body signifying the presence of life exists, I dare opine.

As I mark this phase of life along with my compadres from every work and facet of life, battling each new day with its own unique challenges, I admonish everyone who has taken the time to accompany me on this journey that “I am because we are” and so let’s reach across every divide created by man, throw off the unnecessary weights of class, wealth, fame etc and link hands with each other and make our way together in the spirit of humanity and brotherhood to the celebration of life…..”BACK TO WAFFI 2017! Remember that the difference between ‘I’ and ‘WE’ is just one letter, let that one letter be at the very least someone else and no greater joy exists than one shared with others.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

…in the valley again

Standard

Image result for in the valley of desolation

Its eerily silent, with the evening breeze not so much caressing as biting my skin. My bones feel heavy, each joint creaking as I try to rise to my feet. Its almost like de ja vu as I look around and see nobody, save for the bones of the fallen at my feet. Like a sailor aboard a ship in the middle of a fierce storm, my legs feel all rubbery but still I must rise otherwise I might very well lay down and cradle the bones strewn around. And bones do not make for comfort.

I can hear the voices of people above and around me, seemingly oblivious and my voice grows hoarse as I call out for help, however the response is the echo that comes back to me. It is weird because this is like the reeling scenes of a movie once seen before. The callouses on my palm are a sore reminder of the last time I clawed my way to the top and although they are all but scars but still the memory of the climb is still nestled somewhere at the back of my mind.

The twinge along my spine is not of fear because that has been conquered long ago, it is just a painful reminder of the limitations of this vessel. The medication alleviates it but still like relentless waves of an angry sea, it bashes again and again with an almost uncanny determination to knock me down and keep me down – I object to that and acknowledge that even in the silence, I sense strength and hope for me.

Like the bucking rider on the bull, I am reminded that there are just but two players in the arena and regardless of whether there are silent or rowdy spectators, that does not change the fact. I have called out and He hath sent me help and this time will not be any different. This is not my first rodeo even as I yet again gather my garments around me and stumble to the the sheer walls surrounding the valley. Hoarse voice, calloused hands, aching body….still I know this is not my destination.

My head slumps just as another bout of pain hits me, and I see my own hands in the twilight – these are the only hands that will always help me up and rightfully attached they are to my own arms. I will not succumb! I did not and I still will not because there is more than just me to think about. No white flag will ever be hoisted above me in surrender because I am more than a conqueror and needless to say whether the circumstamces acquiesce to that or not, that is my choice.

I am not just going to be another set of bleached bones because this vessel holds dreams and aspirations and to them I will see, though time hastens by but with each footstep I take, I know that this battle has already been worn. The silence of those around me do not make me despair rather they drive me on, and as long as I’ve got a voice, it will be heard. I will not spend any energy in raising clenched fists in anger and disappointment, I need the strength to make my way up because as always when I crest the top, the beauty is a sight to behold and with heads bowed in shame, they will make way for me.

The climb must begin once again because this is not my destination, I know where I am headed and companions in due season will arise and play their role but for now I must do it all by myself and with the inexhaustible reserves of strength He avails me. Battered, bruised and bewildered but still I journey along. The stones feel very cold to the touch as my fingers search out the tiny holds to enable me pull myself up. This is not an exercise in futility because climbing takes me upwards and there I must be. A beacon of hope to those who have fallen down into their own valleys, an inspiration to the few amidst the many who have never been down, a message to all that life is not fair but the choices we make determine who we become – caregiver, friend or just another set of willing hands.

From my lips, emanate praise to The One who makes it all come together for me, for He was, still is and forever will be. Inch by inch, I pull myself up – the grazes matter but nought to me. This is my climb out of this valley and my place will never be with the bones…

מאי להאירובנעימות עליך עד שנפגש שוב .
Adios!