Mark Twain wrote this ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect’. Kinda whimsical, many would say but right on point I opine. There is a long list of words that even though they lack the property of malleability, have been persistently knocked out of shape so as to suit the whims of varying categories of individuals. Awakening this morning to the beautiful sound of rain falling, the glistening drops of each pearl of water collectively falling upon the good, the bad and ugly – one cannot help but contemplate on the mysteries of life. Why do good things happen to bad people? Why is it that success seems to favour but a few? What is so alluring about success that makes her twin; failure an orphan? To get a better perspective, I checked and affirmed that the etymology of the word is from the Latin phrase succedere ‘going beneath’ which has metamorphosed into the word ‘success’ which means ‘not going under’. Now the question arises, under what? Who sets the benchmark? For me, the answer is as clear as the glistening drops of rain falling from the sky…..YOU DO!
If you have been to the Victoria Station or Oxford Street, you literally can lose a child if you are not firmly attached to her. Even on the escalators, those of us who are no longer as nimble have to keep to the right except you want to hear ‘get out of the way mate’ in that beautiful London accent and with all the hustle and bustle, you can only but contemplate the varying driving motives behind all the rush. Life is to be lived and the resources to sustain ourselves abound all around us and whilst we adhere to the infallible instruction of ‘he that does not work must not eat’, I tend to draw the line between being enslaved by our ambitions to the detriment of all else. For me, the question we all ought to ask ourselves is who is really in charge of our drive and if the answer is a hesitant yes, then take a moment to really hear me out. Being successful is a function of who sets the benchmark for you and if you did set the benchmark, what else have you sacrificed at the altar of that benchmark.
Living in London has been so enlightening because irrespective of whether you are in the top echelons of society or at the bottom rungs, there are always the bills to be met and so being in a situation of utter dependence on others is certainly not a viable choice for many of us. Yet again, what are the needs of man? And if we acknowledge that our wants are insatiable then why do we choose to esteem our wants higher than all else? I remember being introduced to the subject of Economics prior to my seating for my O’levels and what really intrigued me was the topic on Opportunity Cost. For everything we aspire for or aim to attain, there is something else less prioritized and the issue is what do we give up to meet the distorted use of the word Success. Right outside my windows is a birch tree, and every morning without fail, the twitter of the birds remind me that no matter how hard I strive, true freedom is in the ability to do those things that I would love to do without fear or favour even as they remind me that my value is worth more than one of those cheery winged friends and yet without ceasing, they have something to always be thankful for.
Now, being a success in life is contextual but for me, I dare to say that, take a glance at both your arms because right at the end of those arms or arm are the very things that you should be most thankful for. You are a determinant of who you want to be, whether employed or not, salary earner or not, wage earner or not, it is the satisfaction of being content at the end of every day. Delighting not in the fact that you have finished a day’s work but that you have been able to accomplish something worthwhile not just in your own life but in the life of the very people around you.
The Word says that an infidel is one who is unable to cater for his family. What then do you need to cater for your loved ones? It is the ability to share a word of upliftment with a loved one who seems low, being free to share your time with them, enjoy peace and joy with them because love cannot be bought and a meal of herbs eaten in a happy home is a better treat than a banquet in a mansion shadowed by strife and inordinate desires. Freely we have received; freely we also ought to give. Behind many of those gild gated mansions are a world of chaos, spite and longing. As you desire that Ferrari or Cadillac roaring past, be glad for the fact that even whilst on the bus – you are happy and content. Aspire for the very things that matter in life, friends.
As I struggle to put my words down in meaningful order, I remember some new friends I have made along the way. Being able to make them understand what dystonia is and hearing them say I am an inspiration to them is one of the greatest joys that I get to receive in daily doses. Amidst the hurts and pain and sometimes apprehension, lies a spirit that acknowledges that it is not about my status in life but what I am able to do with those I am privileged to encounter. That for me, truly defines how successful a life one is living. Just like the little puppy that was chasing its tail in circles, so many of us are sacrificing everything meaningful to reach for that which is already ours. Just live your life with a purpose and success will truly follow you.
My friend, Jess is in Malaysia on holidays and we all partook in the countdown because life consists of these little moments where we can truly spread our hands and exhilarate in the beauty all around us. Dystonia or not, we are committed to living and not just living but living a fulfilling life. I look around me and I see not just obstacles in my way but the opportunity to put a smile on someone else’s face. I see the opportunity not to be stared at with pity but an opportunity to bolster someone’s spirit that despite how unfair you think life has been to you, your very life is a success story if you choose to make it one. I want to end with this challenge to you “BE DIFFERENT!”