CEO, Inspiration Inc…..

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To start with a rueful comment about how frustrating writing can get is right about apt because how else could I tag the emotions I felt 7 hours ago? Finished up a piece and was putting on the bells and whistles, suddenly Shazam!it’s gone and when the device in use is my back-up, suddenly the realization of how much I miss my laptop is suddenly brought to the fore…..Oh well, since I do not want to ‘join’ the vanished piece then I guess the best course of action is to shut down, call a time-out and welcome the new day. That I would categorize as being one of the unsavory duties of a CEO, there is no other table for the buck to go to. This event along with the ones happening in recent times make me question how busier can living be? How can I live without writing? It started off being an avenue to channel all the hurt, bitterness and resentment in a positive way but now it is becoming a vital part of who I am daily.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those men who dream in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the morning to find it was but vanity but those men who dream by day – these are dangerous men, for they dream with open eyes to make their dreams comes true.” – T.E Lawrence. Right off the top of that, I think I class myself as being ‘dangerous’ and were it not for the constraints of dystonia, I probably would have pursued a career in which danger played a huge role. Why? Danger lurks around every corner so why not best it as quickly and as often as you can however it is essential that you know yourself – stick to the shallow side of the pool if that’s the extent to which you can push yourself.

I have since learned not to view myself as strange whenever I tell people that I do not dream (and this is whenever I am able to wrestle insomnia to submission) but dreaming due to the heavy influence of lofty aspirations and objectives, that therein is a totally different subject matter. This is what I do when life chucks lemonades at me, I pick myself up, ignore the bruises and welts and find the nearest food processor and make some lemonades (summer is fast approaching anyway). Although turning and tossing, watching the hours slip by elusively is no fun but rather than give in to grumpiness and full-blown irritation, I dream and then act because I know time is no servant of any creation. Developing that uncanny ability of identifying the pros and cons is not very difficult but transforming the cons to pros is where the heavy lifting is done. Can all men dream? Most definitely! Can all embark on making those dreams come true? That is a question best posed and answered by individuals whose lives are greatly determined by their personal choices.

Some weeks ago, I posted something on social media and one of the many comments (in interpretation and in literal candor) was ‘you are an inspiration!’. Well dystonia or not, compliments are a pretty good boost to one’s psyche however over the years, I have somewhat become adept at separating the default comments from the sincere, unreserved comments. Now I do get to hear that comment frequently but for some reason, this particular day’s comment got the huge wheels in my head churning (which is something I try very hard to avoid because of the adverse consequences, it is so wearying getting them to stop) and I alluded to the fact that inspiration is a lifetime career with a lot of pomp and allure but ironically no financial remuneration. Oh, that sounds really grim especially when today’s world operates on the measure of tangible wealth that translates to an individual’s net worth. I do opine however (and most assuredly this is not borne from a place of lack) that if we were to tag everything in our lives with a physical cost, that would be utter shameful because then it would be most uncomfortable explaining why many lives are constantly in the red.

I remember that during those ‘ship-up or ship-out’ regular exercises as a growing child, one of the oft repeated phrased associated with those exercises was, ‘this exercise will help stop you from behaving like a gutter bred child!’ It took me a couple of years to completely decipher the meaning especially since it was associated with those frequent exercises and despite the fact that I truly was a ferocious reader and hungry for idioms and definitions but even those were not strong enough motives to ask a visibly upset parent to explain what that phrase meant. In the acquisition of knowledge, seeking the truth and/or definition yourself usually is the best way to go because when you do get the meaning, you somewhat get a personal patent that ensures nobody can take it away from you. And so attempting to tag a price to everything we do is akin to behaving like a gutter bred child, however the gutter has never been ranked on the list of suitable accommodation for humans. So get the heck out if you think you are in one or have been told most of your life that the gutter is where you deserve to be.

Every new day, I am thankful for the countless opportunities to be inspired by the lives and events that occur around me but most especially I am inspired by the false facade that many put up because when you just genuinely show some humanity, then you are confronted by the turmoils that many face and are trying to hide from by concealing them beneath this thin veneer. Just as the trickle on the surface of an aging dam is a sure sign of the torrent that will follow closely, so is the certainty that someday that facade will crumble underneath the pressure of trying to avoid charting your own path. It takes little or nothing to travel on a well worn path but remember that just as our DNA varies so do our purposes and so investing energy into determining your own purpose amidst the jungle of society and swinging at it with a machete will ensure that you forge your own path and help another begin theirs. We are all interwoven at some stage in life and we may begin together but remember that ‘in life, we meet to part and part to meet’

Life is an exercise in attaining balance; giving vs receiving, listening vs talking, empathy vs cynicism, kindness vs cruelty…the list goes on and at every milestone we attain in life, we must choose what side we want to be on. Seeking ensures finding, asking ensures knowing and knocking ensures access to doors we hitherto presumed were non-existent. It is no easy feat living your life but jumping on the band wagon is not an option because you really have no say as to the direction of the wagon. Being an inspiration means that more often than we think, we give a fellow traveler some company for some distance but then she/he must veer off when the time comes. Sprawled on the canvas of a boxing ring after a flurry of jabs, hooks and flush upper cuts does not give me the license to remain there and be counted out and so despite the urge to remain there, I must get to my feet and give it all I have got and some. And even when it is just the rings that are keeping me upright, there is a person or two out there who can truly draw strength from your fight, so keep at it until the bell rings.

With every new day, I strive to push myself just a tad more than I did yesterday and even when my body is playing out a symphony of agony and pain, that is not enough reason for me to stop, I just have to rest a while and then forge on. And when the inevitable opportunity of meeting a fellow traveler down on his back shows up, I will yet lend him an arm and pull him up. With arms interlocked, feet struggling to keep going, I can still whistle up a jaunty tune to make those moments worthwhile. We are a sum total of many parts and lives, and so to everyone who has played some role in my story, I say, “thank you for being an inspiration!” Because although today seems like it could be my last, I know with certainty that my destination is a place where the constraints of this feeble body will be no more. And so I apply myself as much as I can, without the lurking shadow of doubt to scare me, knowing fully well that ’tis but one chance I have got and so regardless of the cards in my hand, I will do the best I can with them.

Remember that “the real measure of one’s wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all our money” – Zig Ziglar. Now that is a tough pill to swallow but as long as we remain adrift on the sea of life, we must acknowledge that time and chance happens to all.

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

Adios!

Lasso’ing Sleep…..

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Lassoing Sleep

There will be always those days when it seems like this journey will overwhelm and crush me and in those times, knowing that there are people who are going through similar trials is always a much needed boost. In the last 8 weeks, I have been divinely privileged to have become a member of so many support groups, and just the realization that you can be yourself amongst others without the looks of derision, pity or disgust is quite profound. Acknowledging that for every thinly concealed nonchalance, there is a friend who knows what you are going through. And when you see a request for prayers from a new friend, it is not a gesture for fame or recognition, but a sincere request from someone who is going through torrid times.   With the medical capes of Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Dystonia, MS, Parkinson’s Disease and similar villains associated with the neurological system casting shadows, you can truly appreciate the warmth associated with being in a group of defiant individuals.

One of the support groups I belong to is aptly named ‘PD Night Owls’ because there is one common denominator with all these vicious medical conditions and that is the inability of the body to get its much needed rest. In addition to the ravages being wrecked on my body as a whole and the adverse influence it can have on my social life and activities, I still have to confront those little horrors that come with such conditions. Just like the mythical Peter Pan, I will claim my own shadow someday, (because the shadows of these villains just seek to further highlight mine) even if it requires patience, endurance and skilled needle work. As a child, one of my fond memories is darting around with friends trying to escape been tagged or trying to tag someone else depending on what your role in the game was. With the passage of time however, all the fun associated with that game is stored away as cherished memories even as I attempt to dole out some much needed discipline to a little rascal termed ‘Insomnia‘. The futility of playing that game in present times is more than just age-inappropriate, rather it is one where the odds are so unfairly stacked against me that it would be foolhardy to even contemplate it.

Even with a plate already over laden with all these nasty medical challenges,  insomnia finds a way of converting itself into a sauce that trickles through, further tainting the package with extra foul taste. Ideally, life is a series of decisions and choices and so instead of partaking in an unfair game, I choose to witness the birth of every new day. Again perspective plays a significant role, because perspective is a result of a choice being expressed and so I do not detest the approaching darkness of twilight signifying the end of a day or envy the stillness of the dawning that marks the beginning of a new day. Instead I count myself blessed that I am able to witness the birth of every new day, that is a choice I make, instead of devoting energy towards battling a foe that acts as the reconnaissance agent of a massive horde. I have learned that it is better to study your foe(s) for any signs or weakness and when you do find one, not to let a moment pass by without any action from me. Alternatively, I re-access my armoury, evaluate my relationships/allies and utilize what I have even if it requires a little bit of tweaking.

Most battles are won through the application of wisdom rather than just sheer brawn, and so instead of engaging with insomnia every day, I have learned ways to circumvent participating in a seriously skewed game. It is no longer rocket science that the body as a dynamic system requires a minimum of 8 hours of sleep to enable it reset and be ready for the next day. In recognition of that, what do you do to a body that is thoroughly exhausted and in need of sleep? When the habits inculcated in earlier years of running around in a Ferris wheel, have now turned around to nip you in the derrière. I try to lighten the situation by explaining that the brain is such an amazing creation, and so like a commander in charge on the battle field (safe and secure in the skull); it is still strategising, processing, sending out signals and assigning tasks to a neurological system that is almost buckling beneath the onslaught of neurological disorders. And in a bid to prevent a total collapse of this structure I call my body, I must find a way of reining in this magnificent commander lest in its efficiency, it pushes the body way past its limit.

A warrior in the heat of battle is confronted with two choices; live or die, and inadvertently the choice for life must be backed by commensurate actions or else death would gladly swoop in, ever ready like the vulture circling above patiently waiting for road kill. There is always the option of taking a short cut but again the ignorant will find that short cuts are never the fastest or the safest, and so we realize that depending solely on medication usually has a predictable route. With every dose, the body responds by building a resistance to that dose with time, and so we increase the dosage or switch medication. However, just like the fool belatedly realizes the folly of his ways, more often we belatedly realize the folly of borrowing an hour or two from Sleep time in order to accommodate that last meeting, finish up that work task that could not be left in the office or just tidy up that little assignment that is tied to a deadline that is usually unfeasible. There is no reward that can be obtained from cutting off your nose to enhance the beauty of your face, because if we do not adequately cater to the needs of our bodies, someday just like the Merchant of Venice, that pound of flesh must be required as payback. Contentment is not weakness, it will always be at conflict with the inordinate ambitions that characterize today’s world but it is an inseparable companion in the pursuit of noble aspirations.

Just like the daily battle with insomnia, there is the constant need to keep that tricky balance between living healthy and taking proper care of the body. For me, that balance is key because any slight external influence will not only destroy the balance but the chronic pain associated with daily living would assume proportions frightening to even conceive. You do not have to be sick to appreciate health, and so the same scenario plays out in lives everywhere: feign wisdom and take from tomorrow to assuage today’s needs. Most of us are undeniably guilty of that crime and inevitably the pretentious wisdom we applied will someday be revealed in all its entirety as sheer folly.  For every ill-advised action we take today, there will be the corresponding consequences tomorrow and it is not foolishness to be different. Sometimes we are placed in situations that did not require any input from us but to triumph in those circumstances, we need not embark on actions that are immediately associated with thought process of a child. There has to be an acknowledgement of what is real to enable us choose what we know the finality to be.

There is still time each day for that last valiant charge, a charge that has its distinct base in an unflinching faith in a Sovereign God and Commander. A charge that is not dictated by the size of this ragtag army but rather dictated by the promise of a sure victory ahead. And so, I will emerge from the trench – besmirched with dried mud, eyes red-rimmed, joints aching and clad in what barely amounts to a decent garment. With all the air in my tired lungs, my bugle will ring out across the mountains for just one final time today, notes marking the last valiant charge. Conveying in very clear notes to the foes arrayed all around that there will be no conceding victory today, there will be no terms of surrender and even if I have to be borne on my shield; I will seize that victory that is sure. There will be no ambiguity in my proclamation, ‘dystonia, there is no victory for you today and though you rave and rant as much as you want, there is no victory today, tomorrow or for as long as the battle rages.’

A charge more valiant than yesterday’s, my colors loftily raised in victory, a determination in the cadence of marching feet, there will be a prisoner of war but rest assured that it will not be from my ranks.

For just as your ranks ripple with number, and your fancy capes adorn you, so will they disperse in defeat, heads bowed in defeat, victory snatched.

To friends and allies alike, there is yet hope renewed and though the war be far from over, our anthem booms loud and clear, there is no giving up – not today, not tomorrow for as surely as the sun rises from the East, none will fall by the way because we depend not on the strength of men.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

Reflections from the Mirror…..

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Embrace who you are but be YOU!

“When I see you, I think “I wonder which face she sees when she looks into the mirror.” – C.JoyBell C.

I, undeniably, am of the school of proselytes that inexplicably concur to the notion that karma is a female dog. I truly love dogs and I am forever grateful to my parents for schooling me about responsibility when I received Scooby as my 3rd birthday present and since that day, I have never looked back. Sometimes I genuinely believe that dogs are not just man’s best friend but that one friend that stands way above the pack. I am still unsuccessful in building up my dream pack of dogs like I once had in the past but oh well, I have got tomorrow to look forward to. As is the case with everything known to man, there are the pros and cons, the good and the bad but fortunately we have that one unique feature that many of us are too petrified to use – choice.  I am looking forward to getting a new Labrador very soon, how long? I really do not know but what is the whole essence of life devoid of faith because we can only aspire for as long as we can dream. Dreams! a figment of our imagination or a myriad of events to be that the Almighty weaves into our fragile minds?

I was privileged to be at the theaters a couple of days watching “The Good Lie” and suffice to say that I was among the only three people seated in a room capable of holding over 250 people, a poor showing and attendance. I did look up the movie online and saw that it made slightly over $1m, however just like the movie, again we are faced with the dilemma of being gauged by what people think of us or accepting the reality of who we are and therefore commit to walking our own unique path. I have long come to accept that regardless of what people are faced with, the choice of what they see and go away with is theirs and theirs alone. At several times in the movie, I was faced with the startling reminder that whilst tears are an expression of our emotions, our actions thereafter are not in direct correlation with those emotions – they are a willful determined sequence of events laid out and orchestrated by us, whether it is in response to our insatiable greed or our conscience, we play them out as we deem it necessary. In my opinion, that is something that we should dare to determine and just maybe, the onslaught of decay and decadence that is overwhelming us can be slowed down and just a few more lives be saved.

Needlessly, I always remind you that I am a continuous survivor of an incurable neurological disorder known as myoclonus but it has only spurred me on to heights that I previously thought unattainable as against quenching the beautiful life and spirit God placed within me. I have read about, listened to and witnessed the tales of war child Emmanuel Jal amongst others and while his story provokes so much despondency as to the nature of man, I did spend 5 years with a mythomane and so the ground rules are almost alike. When life casts you adrift an ocean of wrecks and flotsam, an unshakable thirst is born (an incomprehensible desire for truth that is so fleeting); one is forced to pause and take bearings again because that brief pause may just save your life. Undeniably, in acquiescence to life’s abhorrence of vacuum, you will definitely have to concede some painful losses but without some form of bearing, where are you headed? because “even if a river flows with milk, a dog can take in only one lick at a time” – Tamil Proverb

Brazen faced, I remember the times just after the diagnosis was made and I was faced with the fact that this was going to be and still is one very expensive battle and as we are usually wont to so badly believe, there are some people out there who have the financial resources to make a difference in just one person’s ‘south-going’ circumstances; I sent out series of correspondences to as many as I felt would utilize their ears. The result? Complete humility and a deep birthed trust in The One who steps in when we are at the end of our rope, because what kept me going were the actions of just a few from the myriad of people I had come to know. On its own, it definitely was not an antidote to depression but I made the choice to look myself in the mirror and remind myself that I was created with just one face notwithstanding the hugely popularly misconstrued context of this quote “humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant race of a species and they inadvertently take kindness for weakness from another individual” – C.J Dorner.  I do myself this gargantuan favor each waking day, reminding myself that my actions are solely mine and so I school myself each day in the fact that I should never grow weary of well doing, because no matter how much I try to infer that the reaction will be good – it is not always the case.

Truth be told, that I have learned that we all have a certain amount of days apportioned to us and one day, with all certainty, the clock is gonna stop ticking and no matter how much regrets we feel, there is absolutely nothing we can do thereafter. What we must live with is what did we do when we had the chance? A new season has set in, and as I sat listening to the gentle words of wisdom by Pastor Ernest Zilch at his retirement service last night, I reassured myself that life is all that we choose to make of it – however the memories and consequences of our choices will always outlive us. The impact of those memories will either better a life or worsen it, for when we are done on this fragile earth, the harsh reality of how we lived our lives will stare us in our face for all eternity. As you behold yourself today, make a verbal note to that reflection – we were not created to be two faced. Let that which you behold be a source of dignity and pride to the One who made you, for in giving then we can truly receive, and choose not worthless edifices of numbered days, but choose that which you will forever be glad that you gained.

Remember “It’s great to reminisce about good memories of my past. It was enjoyable when it was today. so learning to enjoy today has two benefits: it gives me happiness right now, and it becomes a good memory later” – George Foreman

עד שנפגש שוב בזמן שלו, לא דגל לבן הוא אי פעם הולך לתלות מהמשקוף שלי

Adios!

Keeping it real…..

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I hate travelling but again that is a necessary evil. A complete turn around from my pre-myoclonus era where travelling was so much fun and one of my hobbies. Anyway, life is not fair because life in itself has been tarnished and tainted and still is and so just being yourself is one of the most difficult challenges you can ever dare to undertake. I recall the tale of the tale of the simple lady who was invited for lunch at the Queen’s request on account of her widespread gestures of concern for everyone she ever came across, and when she was interviewed on what set of manners she intended to display during the courtesy lunch, her answer has always been one of my fundamental principles “I have only got one set of manners and that is who I am“…..impressively profound. In the course of my travels, I have come to acknowledge that life is much more than an endless pursuit of fame and wealth and recognition, a concept I wholeheartedly abhor but one that appeals to majority of individuals – ‘it is all about the green backs!’.

Being cast into the physically challenged category has been an eye opener in many regards and a completely new field of learning for me. I have come to appreciate that being able to do anything at all is something worth being proud of, so pause today, take stock of your abilities (regardless of how little they may seem) and say a word of thanks to Him that has blessed you. I recollect the many times I have been forced to take a large dose of patience pills just because insensitivity abounds and is largely becoming a second skin to many individuals, waiting on board many an aircraft whilst all passengers disembark just because I have special needs and being subjected to hurtful and derisive looks and remarks because we have largely refused to be human in our everyday living. And now, I know that wherever I meet any individual striving with some form of physical challenge, I choose to pause and salute their bravery because being yourself without any form of inhibitions is difficult enough without adding on some form of physical challenge.

Each new day is filled with its own share of troubles but remember that even when life throws the kitchen sink at you and knocks you out, wake up with the courage to still be yourself but duck next time where you can. “Sometimes it is just easier to tell a stranger than to tell the people you are close to. The freedom of speech is my liberation from solitude and if you should take that negatively or with annoyance then that’s on you to look the other way” – Nicole Hill. I have come to realize that so many of us are absolutely terrified of even attempting to discover who we really are and so my question is if you are scared to define or know who you are then what business do you have at attempting every other thing because life consists of not just knowing who you are but being bold enough to stay true to who you are. I may not have been born a quadriplegic but even if I were, that is not who I am. People ask me a lot if I was born this way, and amidst my answer lies this truth – I was born for a purpose and I dare anything to make me believe otherwise. Behind my smile, lies a whole lot of pain and an unappealing  bouquet of other discomforts but I choose to still be myself irrespective of how unfair life may seem presently.

Today marks a new beginning, and I walk in that knowledge knowing that even in chaos, God can work out order and harmony. Vacillating between many personas just goes to show how shallow your understanding of life is because as long as you fail to accept yourself for who you were made to be then yours will just be a charade for people with understanding to learn from. Each time the dime drops, I dare to bend over and pick it up even if it means exposing my backside for life to kick me over but guess what, you still have the dime in your hands so pick yourself up and do something with what you have got in your hand. Desire to dream but do something with what you have now and stay true to who you are. Many extraordinary individuals have opted to jettison their right to choose to be themselves for the sake of a life of pretense and despair in order to maintain a facade that hides sheer cowardice and stagnancy. Always realize that ‘No matter what you do in life, your words, your actions, your looks, your thoughts, you are never going to please everyone’ – Nishan P. so what is the point in embarking on a fruitless venture when you have a unique life ahead of you?

I am constantly stunned by the sheer audacity of individuals who are hell-bent on trying to be what the world wants them to be – by choice of career, relationship etc, many are actually skilled at blaming others for daring them to be themselves, hurling and trading insults every time you scratch their fake veneer. – because if only they could channel just a mite of that energy into discovering who they are then maybe, just maybe we will find ourselves being more loving, more accommodating and more sensitive to the lives all around us. For every time, we choose to make our lives more meaningful by doing those little ‘grand’ gestures to those around us, what a doorway of anticipation and self-development opens up for us. I will never know what it means to be perfect just yet but what I know is that I can be myself despite my aspiration for perfection someday and choose to make my own life an example for as many as I come across. That is my watchword even when the days seem so lonely and my journey unending, I will stay true to who I am.

I have to live with myself and so 
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun 
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf 
a lot of secrets about myself 
and fool myself as I come and go 
into thinking no one else will ever know 
the kind of person I really am, 
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect 
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth 
I want to be able to like myself. 
I don’t want to look at myself and know that 
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know, 
I never can fool myself and so, 
whatever happens I want to be 
self-respecting and conscience free.

These beautiful words from Edgar Albert Guest, painstakingly learnt and memorized in High school are forever etched in my memory. Make today count because that is all we each have got, and be mindful that when you do, you can cherish them tomorrow.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!