Staying True…..

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Staying True

In a few weeks, we will be saying farewell to 2017 and ushering in, with bated breaths and the hope of better things to come, a brand new year. And again as usual, many journals, note pads et al will be whipped out so that the annual yet publicly unrecognized event of New Year Resolution writing will begin. For me, it is a time of evaluation, assessment and preparation because what future will there be to look forward to if we are still perplexed as to our purpose here on earth. Has the dystonia been cured? Nope! Are there new proven medical approaches towards ending this relentless battle with dystonia? Not to my knowledge but the ultimate question I ask myself is “what was there to be thankful for?” And my answer is, much more than I anticipated because it is really not about if my eggs were scrambled right or my account balance is quite ‘attractive’, it is about realizing that I have been through 365 days and still standing.

I recently unearthed my quotes book from one of my many traveling bags, brown and well thumbed, ink slightly fading (thank God I used red and green ink) and the first question my daughter asks me is, “Daddy, can I keep it?”……..Uhmmm! Of course not, you have more writing and reading materials that I had at your age but in that brief exchange, I can truly be grateful for the prayers answered, those pending and those that I received when I didn’t ask for. It is weird when people are taken aback at how leisurely I handle some stuff but then there is always a back story, and it is within those stories that life lessons are passed down from generation to generation. I am not a witness to any man-made life transforming physical attribute, the emergence of an Adonis or the perfect being but I am and will be a witness to the countless things that we take for granted because we are in our carefully carved out comfort zones.

I am thankful for the many friends that have passed through my life, some still there for the long haul while others have moved on as their life purposes direct them. I want to without permission talk about the relationships that have left indelible marks on who I am becoming and as I write I cannot help but marvel at the laurel, awards, certificates that bear my child’s name because she represents the next generation and whilst there is breath in my lungs, together we will journey for as long as I can and even when the wagon wheels fall off and I am unable to put them back on, I know that there’s help just around the corner. One thing I do not mind telling her everyday is that she is not an option but a priority and I am thoroughly stoked that we journey together and when the time comes for her to leave the nest or for me to transition to grander lodgings, I will proclaim that I do not have any regrets.

For me, regrets are an admission of not being able to retrieve a learning point from every experience and like I tell my few friends, I have seen more than my fair share of curved balls. And so it is not about how hard the balls hit but what they made me acknowledge even as I move on. Photography will always be a hobby of mine and even though it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in it as much as I would want to but the stories that my pictures tell are worth lifetimes. It is in the brief or prolonged encounter that I have had with the lives that I have been greatly privileged to meet that make me truly say I have no regrets and to a great extent, I have stayed true to who I am, which is just another way of saying that I have tried to walk the paths laid out and defined for me by God. He truly is the bane of truth and no compelling discourse will change the foundations upon which I have built my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I drove through the night with tears cascading down my cheeks because no matter how many tough storms you have been through, the reality is that each storm actually reveals layers that you might never have known existed. And I have learned that even when you are down, you will always find strength to reach out to a friend who is desperately in need. In my opinion, there are those people who for some unfathomable reason are unable to grasp how important they have been to me and so it is not uncommon to tell people that I love them just for who they are. And so the tears were for a friend who is counting down the days to a miracle or to a transition to loftier dwellings. I have since learned the futility of asking why does it seem that bad things happen to good people because I have also realized that it is because those events are suited for a particular cadre of people, who do not even know their own strengths and so inadvertently it is not so much about bad things happening but the evolution and growth of truly unique individuals.

Keep hope alive

I know first hand, what a torrent of feelings you experience when you are told that the medical issue that you have persistently battled with is not going away. It almost seems like a black hole has just opened up in front of you and is desperately tugging at you but what if you refuse to give in and just fight. Sometimes every other person will tell you that it is pointless to do however remember that people did not give up on you, and so even if it’s seeming like your twilight has come, remember that the choice is ours to create memories that will not be so easily forgotten. Even when you are being pummeled and the obvious option is to just give in, remember that there are lives around you and regardless of the time of day, hope is like a little flame that shines through the darkness that seemingly grows in magnitude every day. I may not be as mobile as I used to be however when I realize with stunning clarity the countless privileges I have received, the least I can do is to pay it forward. And so even when it hurts to smile, and you can can barely get up from your bed because the slightest pain causes you to break out in sweat, when it seems like curling up in the fetal position looks quite appropriate, let this fact not escape you – there’s something you can still do.

More often than not the battle of life rages in the mind and so its not about how many iron man competitions you have participated or how many marathons you have run or your ranking in obstacle races, when life hits you – the battlefield rages in your mind and yours only, and as long as you do not give in to the wilting of the mind by focusing on the horrifying monster in front of you, you can still be a beacon of hope. Hope that you live is hope that heals and you may have been written off by people but in the fullness of time, God always comes through on your behalf. That is a message that you must share because in all reality the world is increasingly becoming like the Dead Sea but the sliver of hope that you hold, the little spark of kinder can light someone else’s candle and so that in itself is a purpose and one thing I know is that one of the greatest gifts you can ever have is the opportunity to finish strong. Refuse to let the circumstances around you – the hair loss, the painful torquing of your spine, the inability to keep food down, the weight loss etc do not let them define you because I know you and I have loved every moment I spent with you.

Those moments where your laugh rang out, when your eyes twinkled in mischief, when your company was the only thing that kept me going – there is more than enough for me to treasure you forever. And when you hear that the chemotherapy is not working and your life is reduced to the slowly running out sand in the hourglass, stay true because you may not have gotten all the gifts others take for granted but you still have time to share the tale of a walk with God or the life transforming event that has over the years given you the grace to press on. When the finish line looms ahead, be thankful for being able to run this race, be thankful that you chose to be you because that is who God made. We will never in all entirety have all the answers but there is a certainty that cannot be questioned and that is you were made for a purpose. Cancer may be wreaking havoc in this fragile body but I am glad that I ran alongside with you, I am glad for the sacrifices you made but above all I am glad for the love that we shared, the conflicts we had, the disagreements etc because I can say that I lived amongst angels. This for me is not an eulogy and yes every loss requires grieving however I choose not to dwell on the inevitability of saying farewell because we part today to meet again in a place where sickness, stress, loss, sorrow cannot dwell.

As the night star shines brightly, that is what you will always be to me – an angel, a bright star. Like the balance scale, good will always triumph over evil and even if we do not experience the victory physically, we know without an iota of doubt that there is a future that awaits us where treasure that cannot be defiled by man lies in store for us. A place where man’s opinion does not count, where there are no pity parties – that is the ultimate hope that we have, that’s something that no sickness or nightmarish conditions can take from us and as long as we breathe, every breath is an offering of thanksgiving to a Creator whose best cannot be grasped by our feeble minds. And when the breath ceases, we know for sure that the finish line has been breasted because it is not about how far but how well. Today is a day that I am thankful for and despite the inexplicable relapses that have plagued me in recent weeks, I am still standing and obviously not on my own strength (heck I can barely walk 500 feet without stifling the cry of agony) but on The Source that is inexhaustible, for that I am thankful.

“The great miraculous bell of translucent ice is suspended in mid-air. It rings to announce endings and beginnings. And it rings because there is fresh promise and wonder in the skies. Its clear tones resound in the placid silence of the winter day, and echo long into the silver-blue serenity of night. The bell can only be seen at the turning of the year, when the days wind down into nothing, and get ready to march out again. When you hear the bell, you feel a tug at your heart. It is your immortal inspiration.” – Vera Naz

פרידה עד שנפגש שוב בתזמון שלו עצמו

Adios!

Meet Chris….

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Meet Chris

Even as I try to chronicle the significant events that occur in the unceasing challenges of living, especially with dystonia, I still find myself deviating on each post towards something that is particularly pressing and in dire need (hopefully) of one other person besides myself. I mean it really would be something akin to the seer who has built a reputation on her abilities to receive flashes (usually in the oddest of places and times) if every time I posted something, it was entirely about an event that happened to me. That right there is one of the main issues I have with the term ‘blogging’ because with the dynamics of today’s world, quite a significant aspect of our words and actions are a far cry from their intended definition and use however that cannot be a deterrent until I choose to allow it become one.

I literally have already had a few eureka points regarding the absurd difficulties that the simple activity of sleeping has become and though I am yet to fully expound on that subject, it usually features a bit in some of my more recent posts. Now, do I write in order to be understood and accepted? The unequivocal and time-tested answer is NO! because I really am not into, never have for as long as my memories can go back, the whole gamut of being a part of the crowd of pressed bodies on the proverbial ‘band wagon’. Oh, and I still am not of the school of believers that proclaim, ‘if you cannot beat them, then join them!’ because it sort of demystifies the whole point of being yourself in a world that consistently wants to make you someone else. I still maintain that being told ‘you are different!’ is till date one of the best complements an individual can get. However in the light of today’s skewed thinking, abject nonchalance and indifference (craftily concealed with the word; tolerance) I want to emphasize that the difference being referred to is based on the fact that there is just only one of you and that God has lovingly crafted you in His Image and endowed with a unique set of skills, a heart unlike none other, experiences that hone those skills, a personality that is distinct (a mash up of family background, environment and inherited genes) and spiritual gifts.

I remember dashing to the comic-book sections in supermarkets (malls) as a child whenever I accompanied my mum on grocery runs, and it may sound funny but the whole goal of dashing there was to try and read the latest ‘Archie and friends’ or any of the Marvel comics. Was I usually able to finish the entire comic?….uhmmm not quite, because inasmuch as I still detest shopping till date, I usually ran out of time either because having my mother search for me after she was done never had a happy ending or that there simply was not just enough time and I knew better than to ask if it could be included in the shopping cart each time. And as was and still is the way of life, there will always be a newer version, a newer edition, a newer model and so trying to keep pace with the new editions was simply pointless and is still is. In all truth, trying to keep pace with the technological changes is an exercise that could literally drive one insane regardless of how affluent you may be, how brilliant you maybe or how much invention ideas ricochet in your brain and blood/genes. One of the wisest to have ever walked the earth, King Solomon was conclusive on this subject, “Vanity upon vanity, all is vanity” and I do not whole-heartedly put that in based on a whim but based on the actual experiences of a king in the long checkered history of mankind who lacked neither the warmth of feminine companionship or ever faced the bleakness of looking at an empty or rapidly diminishing contents of a bank vault.

I choose to be thankful for every new day regardless of how bad or great the night before was, because I honestly am living my life on the basis of certain fundamental beliefs and so it does me no good if with all the troubles going on, I make the wrong choice of starting each day being grumpy and irritable. I get to suffer the consequences of doing that and not only do I negatively impact myself but I also spread more negativity in a world that is already brimming with so much chaos and unhappiness. Yesterday was one of those days where my resolve to be thankful could actually be embodied. I love driving and so it is not really that great a deal if someone nicely asks me to perform a driving related task – cue in Christopher from Indianapolis! I happened to be around a shopping mall, actually a very large shopping mall and the only interesting place in a new suburb, when I got a text asking me to kindly pick up Christopher from a non-American restaurant and drop him off at his home. I have over the years learned that discernment is a gift because without utilizing that gift, you stand the risk of being a nuisance in the guise of trying to initiate a conversation (even though I usually opt for just being left alone, I now know that concern and care for another can be subtly expressed through a conversation even when I really do not feel like having a conversation).

And so in the course of another good day, I obliged and picked up Christopher and we actually got into a beautiful conversation (not a monologue) – remember, at every point in life, we are either teaching or learning. What really sparked off my interest was the context of the text he sent me, “I am blind which means I will not be able to see your car……” that by itself told a great deal because most times we feign ignorance of reality and believe that we can move on. Acknowledging reality and accepting it as your life are not merely a play of words, they determine whether you react or respond to everyday issues. My interest was not that he was blind or the presence of his cane (I have several canes myself) and being a champion over dystonia, I know that when pity is expressed as a pleasantry either in greeting or introduction, it really irks me because I am simply just living my life and I know that pity parties are not beneficial in anyway to anybody. Of course, I was interested in his story and amusingly when I asked him what his story was (behind every success lies a story), his response was epic, “I am blind!”. So here, kindly permitted by him is his story:

just living my life

At the age of about 18 and on the verge of graduating as a Chemical Engineer from one of the few schools for the exceptionally brilliant in Indiana, he started having headaches and issues with his vision. Those symptoms prompted a routine visit to the hospital where it was discovered that he had a grape/tennis ball sized tumor in his skull and that was literally squishing his brain and therefore prompting all those outward signs – again there is always more to life than meets the eyes.

After the barrage of tests following such an observation, it was inferred that the tumor had started growing when he was 10years old and had continued growing undetected until it had become such a size that it was now literally life- threatening. So of course, he had to undergo a major surgery to get the tumor out but then the damage had already been done – his vision was irreparably compromised. He had to go through the whole 9 yards of disbelief, post-op depression and having to make a choice of either staying down or getting up and learning everything anew – he chose the latter. Due to the major surgery, he missed a year however his younger sister was just a year below him, also studying Chemical Engineering and so they moved in together when he chose not to quit and therefore he had both the essential emotional support and the academic support (note taking, class attendance etc) of his sister. With the added benefits of attending a gifted school, he was able to complete his undergraduate studies and continued right on with his Masters program. As is the case, he had chosen to prove to himself that he would not be a victim however parents would always be parents and therefore he also needed to convince his parents that he was capable and so unknown to his parents, he declined the usual offer of riding with a classmate to a mid-point where his parents would then pick him up. He found his way to the bus station, rode the bus all the way to Indianapolis and took a cab to the house, to the utter surprise of his parents and that effectively alleviated the concerns of his parents. Along the way, he lost his father to cancer, even as he had also decided to push the boundaries further by getting his doctorate.

Unfortunately, his school did not have provisions for running a doctorate program and so he persevered until he was able to get the attention of an alumni who was on the academic staff at Rice University, Houston. Along with her recommendation and his results, he was eventually offered a place in the doctoral program at The Rice University however this was even a much more significant change because it was a completely different city and largely unfamiliar. Nonetheless, he had a distant relative in Houston who he decided to use as an emergency contact but life is nothing without challenges and so because of the move, he had to get documented as being legally blind, obtain the white cane and engage the services of a mobility tutor. With time, he learned how to use the white cane to navigate and move around and so 15years after the major operation to remove the tumor, he sat riding with me, sharing his story with me whilst headed to his own residence where he lives alone, does his laundry and all the other activities related to everyday living. As we swapped stories, he remarked with a wry smile that he does get the same “you are such an inspiration!” but for once (in my case, quite thankfully), we both agreed that all we do as individuals living with disabilities is simply just living our lives as plain and simple as every other person who makes the choice to live does. With a firm handshake, after getting his permission to write about him, I watched him make his way to his home after having an evening out with a friend.

Now this might come across as long winded, however I believe that as you read this, you will completely understand that none of us are born as superheroes but our responses when we get knocked to the ground by the storms of life is what defines us. As I pen these words, I know that in each and everyone of us lies the potential to make our lives count for something other than nought. Simply put and borrowing the words from Chris, all we do is just live our lives and if for some reason, you are inspired by that then I dare challenge you to also live your life and inadvertently become an inspiration to someone else..

Remember that with each new day, we must utter these words, “Now thanks be to God for His indescribable gift [which is. precious beyond words]” and as we face every day with its new challenges, be reminded “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human (existence, my words) experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word – He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” To the temptation of seeing the choice to remain a victim of life’s hard knocks as being the better one, the temptation to become a drain to society, the temptation to wallow in self-pity, wrong-doing or selfishness etc, we already have the victory when we choose to acknowledge and accept them. As for me, in addition to walking in these victories, I choose to be thankful if I inspire you whilst remembering that my life is far from being ordinary and not only all about me. We are all inexorably linked one to another, let our lives not be the weak link in the chain of lives that we are part of.

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

Adios

Out on a limb….

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Out on a limb

Every action is preceded by a desire, and without mincing words or trying to fancy paint it, I really wish I could be more determined to more regularly writing. However, there is the inevitable issue of life and its unpredictability, and just having to navigate each day is a victory all by itself. It is another Wednesday; my own personal holiday and suffice me to say that while it is just another day in a week of days, it holds special value to me and along with experiences from the past, I chose long ago to make Wednesday my special day. From the viewpoint of someone who has worked in four continents, I have since realized that acknowledging that our bodies need rest is not a thing of shame because on the flip side, when we fail to acknowledge that, the long mounds of broken bodies littered along the road as we journey through life will definitely remind us that we just might end up as another broken body if we do not apply wisdom and caution.

One of my daily slogans is ‘life is all about moments and it is either we are bold enough to seize them (if we can but recognize them) or we spend the rest of our lives ruing those missed moments.’ Last week, I was at the hospital again for my bi-annual routine check-up and this is really always a big deal because I don’t like hospitals or crowded places at such (it is a proven trigger for a Dystonic episode). Now what makes this particular visit special was that it was to have taken place in the first quarter of the year but when you are confronted by bills of all shapes and sizes, the associated cost of just living a life especially one like mine that is rife with special needs, you need to be very careful about what you bite and chew. In line with the uniqueness of this visit, whenever the reminder popped up on my calendar, it was almost natural to cancel and reschedule whilst believing that the funds for yet another expense would be made available as promised by God. And so, I kept on rescheduling, even when I knew from the warning signs of my body that this was not an event that should be placed in the category of ‘to be done during leisure’. And then there is that niggling voice that keeps on nagging you about the growing changes associated with the journey of one battling dystonia, that I sort of had to belatedly admit to myself that faith is not an easy activity. In the words borrowed from my devotional, it is going out on a limb.

Oh the joy of childhood, when there were no bills to pay, no accounts to balance, no praying for the kids, nigh on zero responsibility save for that of ensuring you came home with an academic result. Not just any result but one that would like a grand jury, justify to my parents that the legacy of good education was properly being bequeathed to me and that I also properly understood that even though as my parents, they were obligated to invest in me but I also had to hold up my own part of the bargain. And so in the summer holidays, during those long trips to my (actually paternally influenced) hometown, there was always that giddy headiness of being free to run around more (just a bit more than was ordinarily allowed). Not that I was allowed to run riot, far from my imagination anyway, but there was just that teeny weeny bit of slack with regards to the daily structured regimen of waking up early, diving straight (still half asleep) into family devotion and then off to the races; daily chores, prepping for school, school itself (and the added but necessary skill of avoiding being bullied by senior students), home (lunch, siesta and homework), preparing the family meal (I was responsible for Wednesdays and Saturdays), more study, night devotion and bedtime (with the regular foray at night into the sitting room to watch the late night movie while everybody was asleep). Childhood was fun and just adds credence to the truth that we should be childlike in our walk with God, not childish but child-like.

Today, I still find it amazing that I have never broken a bone (or maybe I do not remember breaking one) because I still remember how swanky it looked with an arm in a sling or a limb immobilized within a cast. Why the amazement? I was quite the plucky adventurous kid with a daring attitude that almost bordered on insanity – leaping off , balconies and buses just for the fun of it, accepting the dare to roll under dump trucks as they were passing and for my grand finale; almost burning down my high school science laboratory and myself because I was surrounded by all types of acid reagents, no teacher and the curiosity that has killed many cats (after-all Sir Newton, Robert Hooke, Henry Le Chatelier, K.F Braun allowed that curiosity to drive them into becoming science legends). Mine was a childhood that was far from being uneventful, but my dabbling into my memory cauldron is specific: remembering how beautiful life was when the trees bloomed with fruits. I remember learning how to scurry up a tree, adrenaline dousing the pain of the grazes, scratches and the occasional wasp bite just to get out on that limb in order to reach and retrieve the fat juicy mango, guava or Indian almond. The objective was the fruit at the end of that tree limb that was somehow so hidden that attempting to pluck it by hurling stones, twigs et al was an exercise in futility, and regardless of how tiny the limb looked, getting the fruit was all that mattered at that moment in time. Oh, I remember how many times the limb snapped because of my added weight but the stars that swung around in my head after the fall was nothing compared to the fruit in my hand. That was what childhood encompassed; learning how to be street savvy, learning what my interests and dislikes were, learning that each of us is as distinct as the stars in the sky and learning that loyalty, blind trust in God, faith that good will always trounce evil and relationships were values that each person needed to learn in preparation for the life ahead.

Faith is....Doing!

And so today, when it seems as though my responses to life’s challenges are extraordinary, it is just an embellishment of the truth that the best laid plans are those laid by God. I am simply an ordinary bloke in the hands of an extraordinary God, with each day another opportunity to just trust God and get out on that limb. As I got myself ready for my neurologist, I asked (with bated breath) Amanda at the front desk/window, “how much would this consult cost because at the moment, I do not have any insurance?” Her response was matter of factly delivered without even looking up and since the option of paying by check was available, I opted for that, believing that before they cashed the check, I would have the funds ready. I have always maintained that I believe that I’ve got the best neurologist in the world and so as the consult went on, every new change discussed and medication reviewed, I just voiced out how difficult it was getting any form of meaningful medical assistance especially for people living with rare conditions. That was immediately acquiesced by her and then she asked how much I was charged, now that right there is a rarity because most doctors are completely unaware of the fine details of billing. In response to my answer, she said she would go see what could be done because naturally she always wants to know what activities (especially in terms of income)I am engaged in with respect to the symptoms associated with the horrendous fiend known as dystonia. Suffice me to say that as I exited the consulting room and went to get the next appointment date, the bill had been reduced by 45%!!!

Now it is not all about me, however I can only share my own experiences and that moment (the entire consult) was literally me going out on a limb not because I knew I could wheedle some discount but because I am reassured each day that as I long as I remember that the battle’s victory is not defined by the parameters of strength and might, nor is the the race victory defined by the swiftness of feet then I know that His mercies and provisions are there for the asking. Most assuredly, I say that being logical is one of my strengths but when it comes to just waking up each day and living life, I refuse to allow myself be restrained by the limits of logic. As long as I see a need, I am convinced beyond all doubts that there is something I can do; it is not always about the material things you can give rather it is those intangible things that you give when the material is lacking that make the most meaning. Just having the time to listen to someone else going through a storm might just be what is needed to get the bilge pumps turned on and subsequently prevent his vessel from going under. Most times, we fail to admit that we don’t always know the answers, heck we do not even know what the next moment holds for anybody but we can acknowledge that in the effort lies victory and sometimes that victory is right at the end of that limb. All we need do is step out on that limb! You can drive yourself crazy by applying all known theories, calculating the relationship between our body weight (oh remember that also involves getting a scale etc) and the physical traits of the branch but until we stop and put aside the white board, the text books, the calculators, we are just just going to remain at one end engaged in pointless reasoning and failing to realize that we are not even moving. And if we are not moving then how can our steps be guided? If our steps are not guided, then how do we know that we are not just wandering around in tiny circles? Seeing the same things every day and not even aware they are the same things because we are so preoccupied with attempting to solve things using our puny brain and brawn.

Today is another new day, another rare opportunity to make our lives count for something. Staying all swaddled up in the ‘security’ of our comfort zones is not it because remember that the rain falls on both the good and the bad so who says that where you are today and the accompanying luxuries are yours to keep forever? It never ceases to amaze me when I am confronted by ‘experts’ with their fail-safe solutions prattling non-stop and inadvertently gloating also. The neurosurgeon says that Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is the answer to dystonia and my follow-up question is have you undergone the procedure? Do you have dystonia? Hold on for just a second and listen because wisdom is not exclusively categorized by how old you are. We do not create, neither do we hold the plans and answers but what we have are a pair of hands and a pair of ears and my self recommendation each day that I am blessed to see is that I ensure that I use what I have been blessed with to bless just one other person. Remember that it is impossible to change the world we live in at once but we can start that change by beginning with ourselves and letting others see that change because whether you choose to admit or not, someone is watching you. Be less of a talker and more of a doer because doers evoke change and everyone needs some respite from a world that has suddenly been besieged by a horde of talkers who have completed murdered their ability to listen. Kindly stop!….and just get out on that limb, that is the very least you owe yourself.

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!

Rocking the boat….

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The capacity of the human brain is a gigantic expanse and a mystery that will never be fully understood by man. Sometimes, I find myself saying things that I honestly do not remember hearing but on the other hand there are those things that were  drummed into my head while growing up that I wouldn’t lose a moment’s sleep (I really sincerely wish for that) if it was suddenly revealed that I used to say it in my sleep, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” That was one of the first proverbial statements I heard as a child especially when I was shirking doing something important and relevant, the abject truth is that even without being stolen, time like the ponderous ferry making its way across the lake, is slowly but steadily leaving in its wake so many dreams, unfulfilled purposes and quite a large number of unmarked headstones. We have slowly but surely become creations of our own flawed and erroneous concepts and sadly, the stench of decay has almost lost its noxious fumes because it is no longer offensive but actually more familiar as we cave in daily to the mounting pressures of life and its frenzied minions. “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness” – Charles Spurgeon. There is more effort put into just existing than actually living, with the resultant effect being that inadvertently, many of us have actually crossed off happiness on our to-do lists. The natural reaction of the human body is fight or flee but these days, lives have been so beaten down that a frightening insensitivity to what is happening around us is beginning to set in. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be invited to sit on a panel of highly articulate Christian individuals at a growing Singles’ Group; The Summit and over a period of four weeks, there was ample room to share and learn candid, practicable approaches to dealing with issues relating to living a Christian life in a society that has insidiously replaced stunning virtues with an alternate antonym cunningly masked as synonyms. One of the very first questions asked was if there was actually a difference between compromise and tolerance especially in today’s world where we must allow every thought conjured in the heart of man to be given free reign all in the name of tolerance. For me, I am finding it all the more difficult acknowledging that the silver cord is loosed, that the golden bowl is broken, that the wheel has truly been broken at the cistern and so it is becoming alarmingly difficult to draw up water (which constitutes 70% of our body) from the cistern when the wheel is broken. But hold on, life seems to have continued and at a truly accelerated pace – what fuels such activities? Why are there more debilitating medical conditions than ever before? What of the incessant need to acquire more knowledge that is in no way related to alleviating the sordid conditions we live in? How on earth can you be in a boat on the sea of life and hope, with fists clenched and teeth set, that we dare not rock the boat? How does one progress if one is unwilling to move because of the fear of bucking the system. We can tolerate because we are each on a different path with different purposes, throw in the mix of our background, upbringing and beliefs and tolerance just has to be, ‘Seek to be at peace with all men…”. Compromising on the other hand is a complete wilting of the very fundamentals that should make us distinct, the question that begs answering is when are we going to look up and see the mess that we have inadvertently set ourselves in just because we were too afraid to be different. 

Completely undercutting ourselves at the knee and wondering why we are hobbling on inappropriate crutches is no longer a point of concern, we just allow ourselves be swept along with the tide, after all that is a path of no resistance. Allowing our homes to become a continuation of the chaos that is seemingly thriving daily on the outside as we scurry about in the day and night money-chasing and hoping that somehow there can be an eclipse that will keep us hidden from the world we live in. If our foundations are being closely inspected and cracks are glaringly obvious, how long do we have before our lives come crashing down like a poorly stacked pile of dominoes? Who do we have to blame now because we blamed it on the rain in the 90s and the pool of blame options has so rapidly shrunk that we are faced with a grainy image of our features in a little puddle on our path, where we have started finding ‘comfort’ sprawled out like an inebriated teen on a Friday night. One thing I have learned through the years is that the first time to be knocked to the ground, trying to rise up is always a difficult ordeal but as we develop an immunity and a predilection for staying on the ground especially when a bully is standing over us, it almost seems that staying on the ground is where you are actually meant to be – and nothing can be further from the truth than that. We are creations of God’s love and Pleasure and the ground is rarely where the pleasure is. However, in order to enjoy the pleasures, we must first believe that there are unimaginable pleasures that lie just ahead of us and with that shield of faith, we must apply those aching muscles into getting to our feet. “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading” – Oswald Chambers

I am rarely moved to talk about the many personal videos I receive from social media but this one just literally became that straw that broke the camel’s back. I am going to share the story of a courageous lady who put up a video (I rarely watch them because so many are just a waste of time due to the lack of content). The first thing I noticed in the video was how distraught she was and that just spurred me to keep on watching, I kid you not when I say I felt really awful at the end of the video. Now I am in no way calling for a boycott or attempting to tarnish any image but it is the reality of the life that we currently live in. This courageous doctor, a widow who had lost her husband during his 20-year military service to his country, was aboard a flight and observed that a fallen soldier was being escorted home for burial. And like many of the greatest ideas that have marked our evolution, she had the urge to (and yielded completely) go around the aircraft cabin in mid-air asking complete strangers if they would not mind joining her to sing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ as a way of honoring the fallen soldier and his military escort as they made their way home where he would be laid to rest. One of the things I truly believe in is that when you lose that ability to feel shame then it’s time to give out whatever meager possessions you might have amassed because that is a life not worth living. And even before Dr Pam Gaudry uttered how thoroughly ashamed she was, anyone watching it could feel the shame she felt…..after going round the aircraft and politely asking if people could join her (of course there were the nays, that’s what makes life unique), she returned to her seat buoyed by the number of affirmative responses she received and glad that she could just maybe inject some hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation.

A few minutes into the descent, she was approached by the Head Flight Stewardess (Cabin Crew team lead) and told that she could not sing the US Anthem aboard a US airline within US airspace because it was ‘against company policy’ and as she battled with that stunning piece of revelatory information, her question was what would happen to to all those who had without a thought acquiesced to her appeal. Again, in the face of so much uncertainty in t his era of not rocking the boat, she wrestled with the possible outcome if she dared disobeyed the stewardess’ curt warning and of course time waits for no man, so whilst she battled with disobeying an ‘authority’, the aircraft landed and the fallen soldier and his escort were swiftly whisked off the the aircraft. The opportunity was gone, never to repeat itself again, and it was the shame of being compelled to constrain her freedom that was tearing this unique lady apart. I reached out to her and in very clear and certain terms, I told her that it was not courage she lacked – how else would you describe going from seat to seat on an aircraft in mid-flight asking strangers if they would be willing to join her sing the US Anthem, it was the fact that we have become so convoluted as a society that wrong becomes right in the name of compromise. Now that brief video clip got me out of bed even though I meant to take the day off recuperating from the activities of the previous day and feeling the cold, unfeeling hands of Dystonia trying to stifle me. I am glad she posted that video because it gave me a boost to persist even when it seems like I stand alone, because in reality you are never alone – you might not enjoy the physical presence of a fellow sojourner who grapples with similar circumstances but all across time and space, we are bound together not by the shackles of an unknown disease but by the persistence to be different, stand strong in our battles and be proud about it even when we are told that liberty has its limits.


I look around today and cease contemplating how we got ourselves into this quagmire of selfishness and total lack of feeling for the chap next to us, instead I have realized that it serves me better when I can bring a smile to someone other than myself. Let us remember how small we will be, wrapped up in ourselves when there are over 6 billion individuals going through their own hoops and for those who have wrapped themselves in the cocoon of invisisibility, take heed lest you become the Emperor with no clothes on. You might be actually be the only person marooned in your fantasy world because the crowd currently chanting your name will disappear in a puff of smoke when the scales fall of your eyes and you realize that you and you alone have been both the king as well as the court jester. I always opine that it is never too late to begin again however the truth is that you just might be at the end of your journey and what a woeful life it would be that you spent the entirety of your years clamouring for and getting drunk on the cheap accolades of people with no vision or knowledge. It is the beginning of a new day, it is the beginning of making choices that truly count for eternity as against laying sprawled out and hoisted by the naive. I have tasted the sweetness of abundance and dwelt in the caverns of despondency, and today as I take the time to make choices that either make me a better teacher or a better student, I am grateful that there is only One whose summons are my priorities and it is to Him alone that I look unto for the strength to be different. For me, that is what keeps me going each day, faith that regardless of the bleakness of the circumstance or the mirage that shimmers in the distance, He is working it out according to His best plans for me and so here or not – my thoughts are not solely focused on how broken I am but on the fact that even while broken I can be of use, that in itself is so much to live for.

Enough of the flimsy excuses and the fleeting delight in moments of fantasy, there is a path that beckons to me and while I still can, I choose to apply myself as much as I can…and some more, just to let you know that you are not alone. “The hardest thing to remember is that what we each really want is the truth of our lives, good or bad. Not rocking the boat is an illusion that can only be maintained by the unspoken agreement not to feel and in the long run it never really works. Let go of saving the boat and save the passengers instead” – Kenny Loggins

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!

Taking Inventory…

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Sunday (10/15/2017) marks a significant milestone in my writing career and despite the origins not being specifically auspicious (as viewed by some), like everything else that exists, there was a beginning and it is still going strong. It is highly uncharacteristic in today’s world to associate success without financial remuneration however I have since learned that our views and opinions are a reflection of the experiences that we have had. I take pride in the fact that I have worked in four different continents and with this diverse work experience comes the inevitability of having to improve my interpersonal communication skills, because in order to build a successful team or join one, communication is critical. Notwithstanding my ‘diverse’ work experience, there are actually a few things that really prepare you for the inevitable changes that come along with the dynamism of life. Life in itself is a journey and so many times, we start off with a destination in mind and a pre-planned travel route but the irony (often unanticipated) is that some of us literally have to learn to wing it each day due to the unexpected changes that we encounter.

I started writing as an outlet after being diagnosed with Dystonia, and most asssuredly I can say that it not only helped me deal with all the major changes that were taking place at the same time in my life but it also created an arena where I had to learn that vulnerability is not a weakness. Speaking from the standpoint of one who has had his own stint with the military and law enforcement agencies, being vulnerable was and is still erroneously regarded as being weak. Being a combination of choleric and melancholic, temperament wise, was not that much of a help during those initial dark days, because when one is used to lining up the stars before proceeding on any task, having to deal with the reality that the galaxy is not arranged by my own standards becomes a huge deal. Acknowledging that we may have the best of plans, we commence our foray into the battlefield of life but ultimately our paths are defined by the choices we make when we get knocked down to the ground and there is literally no breath or strength left to stand again. And so when in the course of discussions, I discern that the ignorance being flaunted is not an intentional act but rather one that is borne from the lack of experiences, it is usually not that big a deal to concede and move on.

I have since learned that empathy and sympathy are just words to many of us who have not experienced any storm however the ability to gain wisdom and apply it is a personal choice. Sometimes, wisdom is avoiding making mistakes (not very easy because we are prone to making mistakes as humans) and learning from the experiences of others. Today in church, I was reminded that empathy and sympathy are simply channels for conveying information and so being able to sympathize and empathize is not really worthy of a celebration. These are abilities that come along with being human, choosing to utilize these abilities or put them in cryogenic chambers is one that every person has to make. And so as we trudge along on our personal paths, we are better companions when we can empathize but the truth is that there is a world of difference between empathizing or sympathizing and being compassionate. The former informs you and creates room to be humane while the latter does more than just informing, compassion spurs and motivates you to identify a need and do something about it because remember words are just words until they are translated into action. And so with each new day that I am blessed with, I choose to be compassionate because even if you have the financial muscle to own your own private island, you cannot be oblivious that there is so much hurt and pain around us.

As I continue on this journey of mine, I am continuously learning new things about the limitations of my body, the strength of my spirit and the inexorable dependence on God that has significantly influenced every step of this journey. It is therefore no coincidence that my name means “God is leading me!” and so it should be a no brainer that I yield the wheel to Him. However the glaring truth was that just when I thought that I was doing that, my life after the diagnosis compelled a better understanding of what it really means to trust Him for everything. You really have limited options when you have to combat with chronic pain or deal with the mutiny and uncooperative attitude of your physical anatomy on a daily basis. Need I mention the fluidity of my body clock, choosing to reset itself when it wants to even when my bones, joints and muscles are crying out from sheer exhaustion. There are experiences that require ultimate commitment and completely going off radar just to attempt to put them into words and even at best, the words are unable to really convey what you feel. Despite the obvious shortcomings, I always remind myself that ‘in the effort lies victory’. It really is not all about me anymore, there is so much going on within and around me to make it a completely futile exercise to want to make it all about me. Focusing on myself just makes the journey much more difficult that it already is, and it is just sheer folly attempting to increase the current level of difficulty.

So as I celebrate yet another milestone on this unique journey of mine, I celebrate the many lives that I have been blessed to have met. The countlesss stories of ordinary individuals who have been thoroughly bested by life but still have the fortitude to not give up. The periods of silence shared with friends going through horrendous storms, the pleasure of having warm hearts open up to me, scarred and twisted hands stretched out in friendship and just having this unique opportunity to identify with champions from all over the world. That is what I celebrate and although my destination is unchanged, I still have to cope with the ever changing routes with each new day. To all who have refused to give up, all who constantly defy the odds and even the memory of those who have fought the good fight of faith and are currently in a place where pain, sorrow and illness are non-existent, this is appreciating you for accommodating me and my excesses – I am still a Work-In-Progress.

‘Occupy yourself in beholding and bewailing your own imperfections rather than contemplating the imperfections of others’ – Ignatius of Loyola is a quote that serves as a daily reminder that there is still more ahead of me and so it would be reckless to make a career out of focusing on the imperfections of others when I am far from being near perfect.

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!

Your Vantage Point…..

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Your Vantage Point

It is in the nature of human beings to emulate, and most of the values we uphold to this day are those that have been passed down from generation to generation. The rather amusing thing about this ability is that more often than nought, we have not applied ourselves to understanding and so in most cases, there is an application without the due diligence that is obtained from a personal comprehension. The same applies to our spiritual tenets, we take for granted what are actually blessings because we have not taken the pains to develop a personal relationship with The One who blesses and so just like little kids playing on the beaches, we are content with the splashing of the waves when we stand to get a better experience by swimming.

One African proverb that readily comes to heart is this, ‘Parables (idioms, proverbs) are the sauce with which words are eaten!’ The question that so easily comes to the fore is can words be eaten on their own? And would the experience of eating words with the appropriate sauce be more satisfying than if the words were just eaten alone? In almost every cuisine known to man, there will always be some form of sauce (gravy, soup etc) accompanying the main dish that will ensure the exercise of feasting will not just be a dreary one, soon to be forgotten. “Bean porridge hot, bean porridge cold, bean porridge in the pot three days old. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot three days old!” This age long nursery rhyme so succinctly categorizes man and the differences that make us unique individuals however the truth is that our idiosyncrasies are usually a function of where we stand, contextually.

One phrase that can be quite bewildering is something that I picked up during the early stages of working in the corporate world; ‘The reward for hardwork is more work.” What is the motivation or idea that drives individuals to come up with such phrases? The word ‘reward’ as I know it tends to the positive, just like the word ‘penalty’ tilts to the negative and recalling the basic economics I was forced to learn, Abraham Harold Maslow was the prominent American psychologist best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A theory of psychological health predicated on fulfiling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self actualization. I have since learned that ‘self’ is not the best parameter for evaluating achievements because man naturally is inordinately selfish. And so when you realize that work is defined by whether you classify it as a want-to or a have-to then the reward of more work is definitely suited for the former.

Growing up, I can still remember the day that in a fit of rage, I told someone (cannot remember who) that the person was useless. Fortunately, my mother was privy to the incidence and in the ways that only mothers can, she made me understand that as long as God created, then there must be a use. It almost borders on utter recklessness and abject insolence to tag someone created by God as useless, that is like engaging God in a debate on the depth of His Wisdom and Power. Suffice me to say that after the lesson of never succumbing to the urge to call another living human useless was very firmly passed across, I would have blended very well with a herd of zebras if I were to run bare-assed. Since then, I believe that urge was effectively dealt with and I do not think I have ever called someone useless since then. The truth is that we are all placed in positions and locations either to learn or to teach however the onus of tagging ourselves as useful or useless is strictly ours alone.

Most times, the frustration that we allow to pile on ourselves is not so much as a variable beyond our control, it is rather our inability to see the teachable point of the moment we find ourselves in. Whether it is in the stillness of the night, or the rowdiness of the hospital room, or the unrelenting waves of help sought by another, there is something we can take away from that moment. It could be the irascible nature that surges to the surface when we get cut off in traffic or the sheer ‘audacity’ of not being acknowledged for the role we played in helping another achieve their goal – regardless of what the cause is, we can influence the effect as long as we realize that a vantage point is determined by what we choose to learn and pass on. It is not about the keenness of our eyesight that makes our location a vantage point, it is the inherent and often untapped ability to take a step back, breathe and look again. “The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” – Alexander K. Trenton 

Just a few years before I took to writing, a friend of mine who used to blog back then used to affectionately refer to me as her muse. I saw it as a complement and still do even though Hodeejah has stopped blogging however now I know that in every moment of every day, there is something to motivate you to keep pressing on. We are inadvertently constrained by our human limitations but that does not, in any way, restrain us from giving our best each time we are opportuned to be called upon. The privilege of being called upon is not a testimony to your skill or prowess in a particular field, it is rather another opportunity to divest ourselves of the plaudits (their reasons unknown) of our fellow sojourners and show in word and deed that we are social beings. True strength is not an individual index, it is the sum total of the distinctive nature of our diversity when we come together pleasantly, bound by the same goals and objectives. True strength lies in associating ourselves with individuals who are unafraid to love and be loved, unafraid to correct and be corrected and are unafraid to stand back to back with you even in the face of overwhelming odds. That is your vantage point if you choose to acknowledge and wholeheartedly accept that there is a role that only you can play in those circumstances.

As the hours usher in another new day, I am still learning that the path that lies ahead of me may not be what I was once used to, despite that, it is my decision to make each point I find myself at, a vantage one. Borrowing a leaf from the tale of the seven blind men of Bombay as they each described the elephant from their own perspective, let us remember that we may be adroit at what we do but when we refuse to pay attention to the input from another then we mockingly and woefully proclaim ‘my lifestyle is how I deem it to be based on the whimsical cravings of my insatiable self’. For some reason, when you truly apply yourself to a task with all your heart and strength (remembering that our actions should be directed towards pleasing God not man), the succcess of that task definitely transcends the literary definition of success.

In order to succeed at every point and location we find ourselves, it will be relatively comfortable to realize that losing is actually a lesson in winning because until we conquer our fear of failing, then success might not amount to more than the wishes of a child. Our inability to take in life’s lessons is not usually about where we stand but our self-imposed constraint to not look around and see. Even in brokenness, there is beauty!

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!

Clearing Debris III……

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Clearing Out

Still on this subject? I am tempted to ask myself that however I have since learned that there is a difference between staring at the same point from the same location and looking at an object from different perspectives – the former stultifies while the latter informs and empowers. I have to admit that it has been a horrendous weekend for me but again in the light of the options available to me, I choose to still be thankful because what I just might consider as ‘granted’ can and is usually someone else’s luxury. I walked into my daughter’s room this morning after the usual protocols had been observed and once again, it looked like The Flash had just zapped through her room. And oh boy, did I learn in unforgettable ways that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ As a growing child. However I now know that the context in which cleanliness is used is in reference to holiness (that is another subject to share on) and so the many unforgettable ways did not really help me until I understood what it meant.

Me : “Why are your clothes strewn across your bed?” Her response was sensible but more of an explanation for not doing what is right, “Oh, these are for washing cos I have worn them before and the others are for ironing…..” well to just sum up the entire conversation, we agreed that anything not properly stored in its place was destined for someone who needed it more because families had lost their all. Well, this post is not from some far off city where the devastation was seen on TV, we witnessed it and we do know families and friends who had to leave everything behind (and lost almost everything) so that they could be evacuated by The National Guard using an RFB. Now, the road to recovery from the Hurricane is still ongoing and may very well be for a long time however with each drive through the city, the debris on the front lawn of homes are still reminders of how we were saved from the storm. Yes, I said saved. The default instinct of natural man is to ‘store for the rainy day!’, but when the rainy day is here, we still find an utterly ridiculous reason to still keep storing and before we know it, we create breeding grounds for pests and put ourselves in harm’s way.

Clearing Debris III

For the dump

It just occurred to me a while ago that we each have varying amounts of debris in our lives and it takes the occurrence of a storm for us to seriously and quickly determine what counts and what can be recovered later. All this going through my mind as I wondered how on earth I still give in to the temptation of sleeping or trying to sleep by laying on my stomach; that was my default sleeping position pre-exacerbation of dystonia and its dx. I can be very graphic at times but when the pain on your lower back feels like your lower spine is in a huge torque wrench, and the lightest of movements feels like that torque wrench has just been given another turn, then attempting to chronicle these frequent episodes is quickly forgotten. In high school, I encountered the term ‘opportunity cost’ and it just made a whole world of things clearer than before. I would gladly defer the option of having a body that sometimes just ‘goes rogue’ for even a popsicle on a winter morning. It is said that some things are better experienced than told, for this case I would definitely call for a timeout on the grounds that this should not even be on anyone’s to-do list!

As I pass through the lives of those that I have been and am still being blessed with, I still find it just a mite disconcerting that many of us have blissfully chosen to ignore the fact that for there to be a beginning, there has to be an end. And most times, endings are not always pleasant because we want to keep hold of what we should give up. Now this is one truth that stares us right in the face but we so often choose to ignore it; until the debris that has built up over the years from bad habits, wrong choices, stubbornness, recalcitrance (the list is endless)is cleared out, there can be no fresh start. I remember what it was, what is and I know what it will be because thankfully the storms of dystonia has compelled me to clear the debris. It is in the middle of the rainstorm when you are drenched and the chattering of your teeth is the the only familiar noise above the storm, that you give no thought to the cost of the poncho or umbrella that you suddenly see. No storm is similiar but being through one prepares you on the off chance that you find yourself in another.

Taking a cursory look at the things I hold dear now is somewhat of a pleasure because they are all intangible, I have seen the utter destruction and loss of material things, I have heard the despondent words that accompany the reality of a hopelesss situation, seen the sheer fragility of our puny strength, witnessed the camaraderie that comes from being in the presence of one who has walked in shoes just like mine, and in conclusion, I know that today’s present state is not a definition of my end. There is no degree of finality that we can conjure up even in the heat of emotions, it is neither our call to make nor are we a creation of our own hands and so if we can comprehend these salient points, then the transformation that births the mythical Phoenix happens. The transformation of the entirety of your being when you acknowledge that we are creations of an Awesome God whose love is never in doubt, is an exhilarating experience with each new day. Those are the things that will never be categorized as debris.

I am not one who spoils for a fight, feeble are the arms that rely on a cane, however I will not quit from a fight and if life with its curved balls and sucker punches deem me a feeble opponent then I am afraid that an error of gargantuan proportions will make its way into the annals of history. What makes me me is not the ferocity of the storm or the loss that inevitably follows in the aftermath of a storm, what defines me is that I have since realised that I have chosen to be on the winning team. Life’s scoreboard might be telling a story to the pleasure and delight of a few but guess what I am still on the winning team and the assurance of victory is what drives me each day. Now I see the glaring ignorance of those who think that they are as indestructible as their wealth safely squirrelled away in the vaults of Switzerland; a generation creates wealth while the subsequent generation spends it completely and so the question that still goes abegging is ‘will you allow the clutter and debris gathered over the years, now out on the side walk determine the state of your life?’

In life we meet to path, and more often than not, we also part to meet. During these sometimes brief exchanges, what will you be remembered for, what light (or darkness) announces your presence, what compassion drives you to be hospitable to strangers, what strength drives you to give your best and some to what ever you are tasked to do. Now I can boldly say that the pursuit of knowledge is a noble cause but when the storms of life hit, referring to your academic levels will be the last thing on your mind. We are so carried away by life and the cheering of the crowd that we often forget that life is a process and within those processes, there are seasons. When the cheering is over and the crowd is gone, do you find strength in your foundational beliefs or you suddenly realize that you never prepared for that aspect of life. Just as God causes the rain to fall both on the righteous and the wicked so also must we realize that our very best is displayed when we allow ourselves to be used by The One who created us. Regardless of the situation of today, that little role that you have been assigned to, remember to do it not for the praise of men but for the pleasure of Him who watches over us.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine; Keith McDonut took the pains to compile the behind the scene experiences of people living with dystonia and I admit he did a fantastic job. I live with dystonia but I am not defined by it and oh sure, there was quite a deluge of comments and ‘prayers’ but after reading, what do you actually do besides making sure your name showed up on the comments section. It is not the perplexity that is outlined in the furrows of your brows as you wonder if that distant  noise is the noise of battle or just the rejoicing of a crowd, it is the responsibility and courage you display when you look around and help another who has fallen back up to his feet. It is not the applause you receive when you give a fraction of what is stored up in your barns that will count for a lifetime, it is the whispered words of encouragement, the sitting in silence with one going through a horrific time, it is that $2 Baconator fries shared in love…..those are the moments that create memories that last a lifetime.

Admittedly, storms always create an opportunity to take stock, re-evaluate and rebuild and so even as the tears roll down grime streaked faces as we embark on the sad part of taking out debris, be quick to remind yourself that you came into this world without a stitch of clothing and so if people helped you along the line to where you stand today, be sure to pay it forward. Elevators are designed to go up and down, but in order to go up sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for the elevator to descend to your floor. It also follows that sometimes the best way up begins from down and so when you get all caught up with the fineries of the 1st floor, do not let this thought escape you; it will only take a storm to make those fancy cars and cellars stocked with vintage wine to become the debris of today. I am confident in certain immutable facts; God designed each person with a unique set of skills so that you can be of use to someone other than yourself and if for reasons best known to you, you choose to hold very tightly what you have been given, the reminder is never a savoury experience.

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Tomorrow

Today is a new day, a brand new blank canvas that awaits the depiction of whatever we choose to and if you choose to adorn that canvas with the continued errors of past years then you just might be like the child who is petrified by the face of a painted masquerade. For me, it is not a default setting; I choose to be thankful for the air I breathe, the friends I have and for every opportunity where I can be of help in making the dreams of someone become reality. Remember this, “Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy” –  Heraclitus.. Yet again, we are faced with the option to choose however I want to state categorically that the former bodes no good but the latter is the pursuit of every man.

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!