Between two cities…..

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In the course of my remarkable journey through life, I have been blessed beyond measure by the number of lives that I get to encounter. And when I use the word ‘encounter’, I mean it literally – at train stations where there are no escalators or elevators. The chap giving up his seat on the morning train while people are still trying to complete their quota of sleep in an insane bid to multi-task. The fruit grocer who tells me to have an extra pound of grapes even though I just have enough for only one pound. The Procuring officer who, without a hint of irritation in her voice, logs in an extra thirty minutes (off the books) just so I get there on time to finalise my business dealings with them. The charming lady with kids who insists on helping me with my shopping despite my clamour for chivalry. I could list complete strangers who just by their actions with no regards to any form of obligation or brevity of time have become contacts on my phone book. Most of whom, I am fully aware, will continue dealing with their own issues as soon as they get off at their predestined stop.

Those are the family of strangers that I belong to and within the time frame of our interactions, I know that they have inexplicably earned a paragraph, a page, a chapter in my life’s tale. Today, I look at my phone book and due to the insistent demand for independence by my neurological system, I have figured out new ways of getting hitherto simple tasks completed with the least amount of added stress to an already over burdened system. To every name, there is a face to match because just like I was explaining to my daughter yesterday about how the brain is a muscle, I had hitherto engaged in mental exercises that ensured that my memory was catalogued. I do not forget faces or names but with the unrelenting clamour  for autonomy by my nerves under the strong influence of dystonia, I have learned how much of an anguish it is when I try to engage in placing a face when I hear a name or matching a name to a face as we converse…….and so I just reinvent a new method of mental indexing to lighten the associated burden of doing things the old way.

Needless to say, I still remember, and when faces and memories ricochet in my head like a hastily fired off shot from the muzzle of a Springfield XD 3″ sub-compact semi auto pistol in a tiny confined space, I have learned the futility of trying to catch the bullet or limit its bouncing around. There’s no good result regardless of how much effort I make and so I just reinvent new methods. Still there are lives that so significantly interspersed with mine that I cannot help but just put them in a category much more easier to rifle through. Now I chuckle when I remember “there are many ways to kill a rat” because now, it’s so amazingly simple to just open the door and let the rat go find someone else with the energy to alternate between the many ways of ridding the world of just that one rodent.

Within the space of four weeks, I learned of the demise of two men (way past the prime of their youth) who touched my lives in so much different ways as their locations. Two continents apart, one life being the only common factor, mine. One preferred to get from me as much as he could even though he rationalised it by saying ‘it’s because of your condition I am even negotiating with you’ – when in reality, there was no respite applied. The other, was as open-hearted as I have ever seen anyone been and even when he struggled to remember the subject of our last conversation, he would still embrace me and plant a kiss on my cheek while propping himself up with his walker. He gave more of himself than I ever gave to him because when the twilight comes creeping in, we more often remember the givers than the takers.

In response to my enquiries, one passed away alone with no relatives or friends with him until he was discovered by one of his tenants. The other had nothing but a long list of lives he had touched with his humility, compassion and smile; who stayed with him till he transitioned with a hymn on his lips and a smile on his face. Am I in anyway trying to make light of the fact that to every season, there is a beginning and an end? Definitely not, but I still cannot picture how sad it is to exit the stage alone and unobserved by the rows of spectators who watch our lives because in all fairness, we are all called upon to play our roles on this stage of life. And so, I know that regardless of how poorly a role you might have played, the least you deserve is a slight smattering of applause just for showing up. However, my question is why would I settle for the polite applause when I can get a standing ovation, not in response to fame or my gaudy attire but in response to the collection of individual lives that were so impacted by our meeting.

When the final stage curtains are dropped and your role is done, what would be the response? Mere courtesy or deep hearted appreciation, I choose the latter every day and so my intent is not to run around like I’m in a game of tag (well I don’t run anymore) but to ensure that whether the duration of encounter is measured in minutes or by decades, I gave of myself both in cash (when it’s there) and in kind. It is so easy to gravitate towards the company of those who give than the company of takers but remember that you are the star character in your own role, and whilst you may delight yourself in being ‘smart’; there is something within you that is meant to be shared with others. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without wall” – Proverbs 25:28 Of what use is a city without walls, how do you provide safety for those entrusted to you?

We are all cities; size, population etc might vary but a city is what you are, and so in this arena called life, what makes you stand-out? Handouts from your fully stocked cellars and granaries might suffice for a bit but when the curtain falls and your granaries and cellars are pillaged and looted by strangers, the insignificance of your handouts would suddenly become glaring and shameful. We are cities stocked for the long run, and giving is a sacrifice but sacrifices are not a hobby in any location I have been to during my sojourn. Though my walls may be in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, and my watch towers have slowly lost their glimmer, there is still something to share with that stranger who seeks solace in the shadows of my walls. Though the buffet table be removed and the fountains but trickle slowly, there is still enough to parch both our thirsts. Though my blankets have all but lost their fleece, and the chandeliers are but a spot on the ceiling, I know that the warmth of our conversation; true and sincere, will create memories never to be forgotten when the time to part ways draws near.

Remember that time never stands still, but even with its passage when the arms of sleep so tightly embrace, memories will always be created.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

Whispering in the shadows….

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A whisper in the dark....

A whisper in the dark….

Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light”John Ruskin

I usually try to surmise my life experience of living with Myoclonus with this witty remark of walking through the valley of the shadow of death with just a flickering candle in hand to combat the swirling darkness trying so desperately to overwhelm me. To many, it defies comprehension especially when you juxtapose it with the developed economies where there is stability of power save for the disastrous after effects of a hurricane, blizzard or tornado just like the one witnessed a couple of days back. (One of the survivor’s son who was interviewed thanked God for making his mum quite nosy because a tree crashed down through her trailer in the exact spot where she had been seated some seconds ago……she stood up to go to the window after she saw a sheet of metal hurtling past her window!) However the light from my flickering candle drives me on through these challenging times.
It never ceases to fascinate me how weird the truth usually sounds – much wisdom is learned in the house of sorrows and the best time to number your friends is in the times of adversity. But regardless of how weird and creepy it comes across, there is always the exhilarating freshness of liberation in its wake. Nobody can understand the pain of your situation but people will always be drawn to your ability to smile despite your pain. I was having a conversation with a friend who had chosen to remain on her side of the road after my crossing even though she had largely prepared me for the crossing and it was amusing to hear her describe me as being ‘normal’ these days or for wont of a more appropriate comment ‘dealing with my demons’. Funny really because demons will always exist, why were they created if not to serve their purpose and so whether we choose to admit it from the perspective of a refusal to cross the road with someone or not, we all have to deal with the shadows because the shadows only exist with light.
It is much easier to appreciate the light when you have been in the shadows and whilst some might construe it literally, there are and will always be shadows that surround us and what an ignorant life to live when we deny the existence of these shadows. I have walked in the shadows of isolation, dearth of emotional support et al with the onset of this neurological disorder and it has further revealed and heightened the inadequacies we choose to comfort ourselves with when the shoe seems to be on the other person’s feet but I have learned that we can only give what we have. No natural disaster is going to imbue us with what we consistently choose not to have and so the differentiating factor is not being able to say that someone has finally dealt with their demons and so it is now safe to cross the road but being able to rightly discern the existence of the shadows and yet choose to be that whisper in the gloom urging another towards the light.
I may not have all the expertise in sharing my thoughts however I do what I can and choose to because I know that just by sharing my heart, I might be building a bridge over a chasm in someone’s world. Like the faint whisper of the spring breeze as it caresses all that lies in its path, so we can make a choice to be that positive influence in those fleeting seconds as we pass through the lives of others.
I was invited to a soccer game by my buddy and despite the fact that they lost the game by four points, I itched for the feel of running, kicking the ball, breaking out in sweat from the physical exertions of bodily exercise. I did none of that for obvious reasons but I did lend my stuttering voice to his team encouraging them to do more and guess what; it sucked that they lost but I was glad to have been a voice of encouragement. Now, many of us might have been content with just being a silent spectator but we can choose to do more than that. Make a difference in someone’s moment of dismay and discouragement, be a whisper in the shadows that surround someone else and be assured that in those few moments, you will put your own shadows at bay. Whilst your candlelight may be flickering, be daring enough to light that other candle that has just puttered out and in the space of those moments, bask in the warmth of the smile on that face in front of yours.
I will always be grateful for these challenging times because a whole new path has opened up before me, I have found love and support in seemingly hopeless times. I have been given a second chance to make a demand on life for what I know I deserve, I have shared in the pains and sufferings of many and have been privileged to do something beautiful amidst the ashes of smouldering dreams. I have learned that you can choose not to judge the actions of others because my circumstances have birthed a wider and clearer perspective and words mean nothing until they are translated into actions, no matter how little they are. I have chosen to enjoy the little moments that come my way not because I am unable to sleep but because I realize that it is a blessing being awake when most people are asleep. I choose to prayerfully assist others not because I expect miracles when I am prayed for but I understand better that the best times to give are when every fiber in your being is screaming to withhold even if it is just to alleviate some periods of pain and anguish to yourself.
As I awaken each day, I am thankful because I have a voice and be it a whisper or a full-throat roar of encouragement, I choose every day to set the shadows just a little bit away for myself by being a voice in someone’s shadows. I remind myself every passing day that it a duty to myself to ascertain and apply myself to my purpose for these times and regardless of how much I receive in return, my work is done and will still be.
Remember that life’s sorrows are but a birthing process that truly separates the bold and different from the rest of the pack. No two chances are ever the same so make a choice to make the best of today’s situation.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!