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!

Never Alone…..

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Never alone

“I feel too much. That’s what’s going on.’ ‘Do you think one can feel too much? Or just feel in the wrong ways?’ ‘My insides don’t match up with my outsides.’ ‘Do anyone’s insides and outsides match up?’ ‘I don’t know. I’m only me.’ ‘Maybe that’s what a person’s personality is: the difference between the inside and outside.’ ‘But it’s worse for me.’ ‘I wonder if everyone thinks it’s worse for him.’ ‘Probably. But it really is worse for me.”

― Jonathan Foer

I kinda said I was gonna allow myself properly reminisce, more appropriately marinate in the events of the past one year and start out with a stronger purpose. Give myself the personal experience of savouring the stillness of the calm after the storm but just when it seems like I can take no more, I am buffeted more strongly than ever by the complex nature of my situation. I have long learned the  difference between sleeping and resting, and even though I shut my eyes in sleep….rest is more elusive than ever, as my system deals with sensory overload in an attempt to reconcile my outside with my insides. Borrowing the words of my guardian angel ;mvo St El Gee, smiling in the face of pain, loneliness and sometimes abject frustration at my inability to do those things that I so eagerly want to do, is something that has become part of me. And though this walk is far from over, I tell myself that I can not have made it this far just by myself. I acknowledge that there is One who alone rules over my affairs and I choose to daily trust Him to do the reconciliation because I have long given up on my own ability to. I make that choice everyday.

I miss LBJ so much that our last conversation tore my heart to shreds, still I know that pain usually precedes pleasure and I remind myself with teary eyes that the pleasure will make the pains disappear…..someday. I feel the pain of a suffering world; the wife and mother/husband and father abandoned, the loneliness of the ailing and elderly, the emotional dearth of a loving but unloved partner, the hurt of a desperately cast aside sibling, the silence of words that need to be said but remain unsaid, the labours of so many unsung heroes, the brittle facade of so many around me and it just seems that I am so helpless to do all I wish I could do. I know that I don’t have as much to give in terms of materialistic possessions and the truth is that, what we need is much more than that, and so I give of myself over and over, confident in the knowledge that I am also giving to myself. Where has the love gone to? That is certainly more than I can deal with now, because I struggle to tell myself yet again ‘why are you so downcast, o my soul. Just put your hope in God….’

I beheld the arrival of this year, and like a child, I am absolutely fascinated by the beautifully wrapped gift of 2014 and with a resolute heart, I know that the gift inside is worth more than the wrapping and yet I choose to savour the entire package because it is those little moments that are ours to cherish for as long as our senses can function. I opened the door, with the swirl of the chill winter winds wrapping her beautiful fingers around me and there lay my beautifully wrapped gift. I stand alone, save for my staff of authority worn by the numerous times I have clenched her with fingers hurting as I laboured with each step – joints hurting, my back a mass of unceasing pain, over-riding the cry of my feet to take a rest….. I stand alone and yet I know that even in the darkness of the dawning day, I am not alone. How do I know that? I can not have made it this far all by myself, each phase accompanied by an angel sent on assignment just for me. I know that despite all the battle scars I bear, I am not yet a victim but truly more than a conqueror. I bear my gift even though my back screams out in pain, I know that I have received a gift and for that regardless of the pains and tumultuous feelings that assail me, I am thankful. Thankful that I have a gift, and not just any gift but one that I can and choose to share with as many as I come across.

There are more reasons to be thankful for, much more than the days of bleak darkness and frustration. I am thankful for the fact that through it all, He is orchestrating it all for my good and yes I really don’t feel like a super hero today, but I know that weeping might endure for a night but joy must surely come in the morning. Yet so many knots still unravelled and some unravelling, I can only appreciate the gift of the now because sufficient for each day is the evil thereof but in the end good always prevails. I choose to apply myself to giving to others because if you really want to do something with your life then there’s only one proven avenue – do something for another person without necessarily waiting for a payback. Pay it forward because we have all been recipients of more blessings than we can enumerate.

My body may yet be a far way from being what it used to be, however I have fought and will still fight, no white flag is going to hang by my door for as long as there is still breath within me. With gritted teeth, I say ‘throw what you have at me, you elusive neurological disorder, I am still standing. And regardless of how many times I am thrown down, gut punched, desolate….I am still standing. You cannot and will not take this gift from me, it is mine and mine to share…’ and so even as I wipe the tears from my ears and pick myself up onto rubbery legs, I will still plod on. I may not have the fanciest or the sturdiest of steps but I choose to move forward because my victory resonates with each forward step. I have lost many just because they refused to cross the road but I have also found many. I am thankful for the opportunity of parting with a select few decades ago, just to truly experience the indescribable joy of meeting again. I am thankful for the nights of weeping because It made me more human than I thought was ever possible. I am thankful for being able to just listen to the hurts that many have harboured, unable to share because they felt nobody would understand…..I do!

With each moment of my life, I choose to share my gift irrespective of whether you choose to share yours with me and as each day winds to a close and I watch a new day dawn, I know that this is my path. Untrodden and surrounded by thorny bushes, I still glimpse the beauty of a rose here and there as I forge ahead and to you my very own saint, I will not give up because we need each other. “I dreamt we walked together along the shore. We made satisfying small talk and laughed. This morning I found sand in my shoe and a seashell in my pocket. Was I only dreaming?” – Maya Angelou

It takes nothing to dream but it takes grit and guts to wake up and live that dream. I am living mine……….with you.

פרידה עד שנפגש שוב בתזמון שלו עצמו

Adios!