Friend or Foe….(pt 1)

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Innocence

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

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

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

Drop the act…

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

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

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

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

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

Adios!

The other side…

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What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adieu!

Happy Birthday Mom….

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

Happy birthday mommy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Loss & The Pain…

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Wear it well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Reverberation of Silence…

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

You can rest easy, mommy

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

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

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


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

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

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

Year 2020

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

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

Into the hearts of the Justice System….

Into the hearts of our everyday neighbors.

The heart of humanity.

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

Written by Red Phoenix

What’s Normal?……

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What next?


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

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

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

Hope exists!

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

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

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

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

עד שניפגש שוב, אני מתפלל שפרצופו יאיר עליך לטובה!

Adios!

Contentment….

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

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

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

Adios!

Keeping Up Appearances..

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2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adios!

Changing Your Story…..

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Achieving Balance

Achieving Balance

To everything that exists (to the best of my little knowledge) there will always be pros and con, and to further emphasize this, one of my favorite quotes by Baruch Spinoza is, “No matter how thin you slice it (bread for instance), it will always have two sides” and so we are consistently being pitted against ourselves – our perceptions, our ideologies, our interpretations however regardless of how much we go against ourselves, the moral fabric will always stay true. Right and wrong; two extremes with a wide range between them and even if you can only see black or white, there will always be shades of grey in between. The beauty of life is best enhanced when we understand that there is a balance to everything and learning to apply that balance is a skill best sought.

One of the cons of coming from a fairly large family with two professionals in different careers as parents was their ability to adjust to situations even as we grew up. I recall being awoken most mornings with the lash of the cane (and even in retrospect, I can fairly say it was neither an expression of anger nor a transfer of aggression) but it did the trick – wiping away every vestige of sleep in an instant. I am who I am largely because despite the demands of their jobs, my parents instilled in us what many lack today – the power of believing in yourself. Lest I stray too far away from my ponderings, I want to share one of the daily discourses we had back then as children. Many thanks to ‘Just A Moment Please’ by J. Maurus – a compilation of articles by several intellectually distinct individuals.

….In a village somewhere in the Mediterranean, two young boys were caught stealing sheep (alas the huge amounts of delinquency resident in boys….) and as was the norm back then, the penalty for stealing was to be branded on the forehead (and I am referring to the steel rod and a really stoked fire). And so the story continues, these two friends and brothers had the letters ‘ST’ (abbreviated from Sheep Thief) branded on their foreheads. The shame and derision accompanying that is best left to your imagination however after a couple of years, one of the two brothers could no longer continue with the derision and cost of his choice and so with no fanfare at all, he gathered all his possessions and travelled to a distant city where nothing was known of him. Truth be told however is that in order to begin afresh, acknowledgement, admission and repentance are vital prerequisites. Suffice to say, that he never got his act together and died some years after and was buried as a John Doe.

The other brother however acknowledged that his own choice had led him down that path and therefore the least he could do was not to run away from himself but rather to pay the cost and seize the opportunity of righting his wrongs. Several decades later, now a bent frail man, he passed by a group of young kids playing and as expected, the young kids’ discussion turned to him. A couple of them asked the million-dollar question, ‘what on earth caused that old man to be branded on his forehead and what exactly do those two letters stand for?’ After several minutes spent contemplating, the oldest of the kids responded thus, ‘My grandparents told me the story long ago and I think the letters stand for Saint!’ ”

Changing Course

Changing Course

Till this moment, many variations of that tale are being re-enacted all over the world and it is undoubtedly not a subject of debate that none of us is immune to making wrong choice. We all do at some point in our lives, some make it a habit but the incontestable truth is that we are all victims of our own choices and therefore the architects of our own story. I dare say that all over today’s world despite the current chaos and mayhem, despite our circumstances or environment, the power to change our story does not reside in the hands of those in authority, it resides in our own hands. Permit me to say that it is easier said or written than actually done but it can be done. When we acknowledge the fleeting passage of time and the need to make our lives count for something other than nought then that in my opinion is a rather good starting point.

Kindly show me an individual who proclaims that he is perfect and I would reveal to you a man well versed in the art of spewing beguiling and untrue words. Yes, we are all works-in-progress however it would be more meaningful to seek the applause of Our Creator albeit in the minutest of kind and helpful gestures rather than seek the ever-vacillating applause of men. I strive to live by meaningful expressions because it is that it is better late than never and being selfish or self-centered makes for quite an uninteresting and tiny life (at the very core of that existence) and so I choose this day to be thankful for yet another opportunity to right a wrong, forgive another and be of help to someone struggling in a quagmire not necessarily of his own making. I may never check all the boxes on my to-do list, I may consistently battle against dystonia and its ilk, I may be knocked down much more than I would want however I choose to pick myself and wrought some well-deserved change in my little community.

Without an iota of doubt, nothing good comes easy (praying to the best of my knowledge has never been categorized as easy but the results of a fervent prayer will always achieve much), nonetheless I would rather end my days in aspiring to do good than stand by and do nothing. Be careful to contemplate these words: ‘Never give up.’ This is not SOUND advice; it is bad advice. You must give up when there is no point in continuing. Then begin a new course. There is no greater failure than not changing course when the time is right to do so.” – Chloe Thurlow

עד שדרכינו יחצו שוב, תנו לאהבתו ולעוצמתו להנחות אתכם!

Adios!