In the stillness…

Standard

Be Still

There will always be that time when it seems like I can barely escape the shadows. When all else quietens, and the sound of my beating heart reverberates through the silence. It is in those times that I reminisce on the topsy turvy of the journey I call my life’s tale and find true beauty in the ashes.

From the plucky little chap in his bright shorts and shirt, tugging on the leash of my toy doggie; Snoopy. The world in all of its enormity, a conquest to be had with nothing looking remotely like an obstacle. I remember how much of a daredevil I was, mischief twinkling in my eyes with hands and feet that couldn’t stay still for long. Searching for and accepting the craziest dares, it looked like I was invisible but life is a mystery box and when jack pops up – it is either of two options, a heart attack or a rush of adrenaline. Regardless of how neatly life appeared, a neatly stacked line of dominoes, nothing really prepares you for the uncertainties.

Even through high school, when friends were made anew with a promise of always being there, life was like a walk in the amusement park with a pocketful of quarters. Never hungry or butt naked, every phase was a trail to attaining a milestone and life was truly beautiful. Sneaking through the pantry with mother’s catering books, whipping out pastries and trying out recipes, nothing could possibly have been better. However there’s always going to be that turn in the road, when visibility is so limited and despite how hard one tries, you cannot see beyond the turn. Stopping, getting down and re-evaluating is not always feasible especially when the thrill of the ride is euphoric.

I remember the concussion I suffered when in my haste (why I always ran is still unfathomable) I ran through the discus sector and got hit by the discus. I remember having my fair share of being picked on and childhood fights. I remember walking home in tattered clothes because my ‘experiment’ blew up in my face and gave me 2nd degree burns (earning the nickname Acidman). I remember being so sick only to find out I had weird allergies. I remember witnessing a nurturing home and loving relationship being torn apart by folly and the influence of wrong company. I remember my first automobile accident, tumbling over and over. I remember being shot at. I remember waking up one night unable to breathe, the race to the ER. I remember journeys to strange places and encounters best left unshared. …….but I survived because of God’s mercy and love.

I recall the university years, being the enigma to many even as I sought to stay true to myself. Plunging headfirst into as many events as I could, getting the down side of misplaced priorities when I chose to continue my internship despite the fact that lectures had commenced. Grateful for the fact that I could be the ear to those in need, a shoulder to cry on for the broken and the elixir for the depressed. Life was beautiful indeed and with the mixture of highs and low, exhilarating describes it best. Graduating from university and going off to the unknown, I knew I would survive because that was just who I was. A blend of healthy spiritual fundamentals and a healthy body, I blossomed within an awesome relationship with God. I was prepared for anything!

Commencing my work career, I thought I had it all planned out and even when I dropped the white collar job for a stint in the military, the confusions of many was the least of my worries. Parenthood was another season and as always I had it all planned out in my head. Setting up a trust for tuition, acquiring what I wanted, it was all going well but it’s in our nature to plan however it is God who decides. Knowing I had that relationship served as a buffer when things went south occasionally, however I had been raised to believe in myself and so I always did. Just when it seemed like I had it all together, life happened. Series of events that I never imagined started unfolding bringing to fore the idiom, ‘when it rains, it pours!’

The culmination of a life in tatters was in December 2011, all around me that carefully built life in heaps of wreckage and just like a skilled burglar, night had suddenly and swiftly crept up on me. Struggling with those fiercely entwining tendrils of darkness, it was a struggle to make head of it all. And each time, I chose to head for the light, the darkness just got longer. This was no medical condition, this was my life now, almost completely subjected to the dictates of the rare, incurable neurological condition termed dystonia. Then it hit me right in the gut; there were no voices lifted in celebration to be heard, no hand to lift me up, no strength to light a match. This was now my life, like a pariah condemned to dwell outside the city walls, isolation was a welcome thing. However, we are a result of our choices and so I learned to bargain with an adroitness I never knew existed. Learned to lace my own shoes with brow furrowed in pain, every little gesture a battle of wits, things previously taken for granted were now things I had to relearn. Circumventing steps to conserve my little energy, being the object of compassion either as I was wheeled in a chair or as I struggled to make my way home leaning heavily on my cane.

In the stillness, my eyes slowly adapted to the darkness and my ears became attuned to the groans of those fallen around me. This was my life but still there was a purpose to it and regardless of the absence of ‘friends’ or ‘family’, one truth stood out; this was my life and so every choice I made had to count. When the cold hands of depression sought to console me, I chose to shrug them off and in the stillness, I found hope that I hitherto believed was lost. I found friends who became brothers and I realized that purpose is not shaped by your experiences rather it is given more clarity during those experiences. Today, I am not just a survivor but I am a victor because even though I have been scorched by the flames, I am now stronger just by the process of walking through the raging flames.

It is in the stillness that you learn some of the hardest lessons, letting go of pride and ambition whilst embracing compassion and aspiration. It is in the stillness that I have learned that my life is not dictated by the size of material wealth but by the riches of intangible values. It is in the stillness, empathy assumes meaning and pain can be shared. I have known abundance and lack, however I have also learned that contentment is wanting what you have, kindness is giving when all else is screaming, ‘save for the rainy day’. It is in the stillness that I have learned that it is better standing in the rain with a friend or someone in need than struggling not to get wet beneath a poncho. In the stillness, I have learned what true strength is, what trusting God means and what living actually means.

Sticks, stones and words will hurt but the resilience of the human spirit is so much more greater. That is what will define you when all else has gone silent. That is what nothing can take away from you except you choose to let it go. It is all about the stillness….

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!

Unleavened Freshness….

Standard

The freshness of YOU!

“Your perspective and confession in the face of events determines whether you are overcome or you overcome. Let your desire to succeed supersede your pain” – Doug Stringer

There is the freshness that comes with every waking breath and to me, I usually take that brief moment to thoroughly be thankful for the breath that I have, and right now I want to sincerely appreciate the hundreds that make the choice to stop by once in a moment and just listen to me. Now it goes without saying that I am just an ordinary chap like anyone of you but the difference is that I am making choices that continually remind me of the fact that regardless of what happens to me, who I am is a result of the choice I make in the moment.

The last few days have been something of a prelude to my theme – “I am having the best days of my life!” That is a choice I make and when I am grappling with the incomprehensible challenges of myoclonus, moments that can not be shared because pain can only be borne however just having a listening ear makes the burden just a mite lighter. Pain always and will always precede gain. The question is the wait – how long will it be? How much can I still bear but to as many that tussle with this familiar scenario, I have just these few words to say – focus not on the pain of the moment but choose to luxuriate in the inevitability of the truth; your pain is birthing your gain.

I was in the company of an exceptionally unique individual who has made a choice that governs his every day activities – Doug Stringer and every second I spent in his company was so inspiring that I said the least I could do was acknowledge and thank him for letting go of his own teeny-weeny priorities, so that God would rearrange and set them aright – blazing trails everywhere he goes. On the other hand, for many who like Scott, were raised up to believe that religion is not a pre-requisite for success – I say what a profound truth that is, because religion is a wagon whose wheels are so bogged down in the mire of tradition and resistant change. I say that there can be no success without identifying your purpose here and there can be no identifying that purpose without acknowledging He for whose purpose we all have been made. There is no room for religion here because religion has not played any role in who I have become, neither has it given me any panacea for my travails. What has been an unending succor despite all the pain, tears, depression that comes with myoclonus, has been an unflinching acceptance of a love so profound that even when I was weighed down and left for dead, that love lifted me and still does till today.

I share my story from the perspective of one who has been cast out, forsaken and buffeted – yet today, I can (have chosen to) freely give because I have freely received. My life is not measured by the wealth accrued, disbursed and whatever but by the beauty of every encounter I am blessed to have with people from my past, present and now.  In response to a question asked by Annette from Global Branding, my definition of success is the number of lives that you can assist in becoming who they are meant to be. In the last few months, I have given cognizance to the recognition that comes, not from desperately sought fame but the contentment that comes with understanding that we each have a purpose and that purpose is incomplete without touching a life here or there. Putting a smile here or there. Helping others realize that you are all you have got and once that truth sinks in, then let life chuck it all at you including the kitchen sink, you already know that there is a victor within you. Life comprises of moments and every moment is influenced by the choices you make because private decisions have public consequences, so my simple message to you is MAKE EVERY CHOICE COUNT FOR SOMETHING! Do it now, beginning with the simplest activities in your every day life – make someone else happy and glad he met you and you are certainly on the right track.

I have touched a freshness that cannot be tainted by the staleness of the negativity that so easily swirls round today’s world and that freshness sets me aglow each day because I know that my life shall be lived irrespective of the number of days but by the experiences I have had and will have – that is what makes you who you are. Do you choose to be transformed by the events that arise in your life or do you choose to transform those events into legacies that others will learn from? I truly have no regrets, sweating over the past mistakes and hurts took me nowhere. Rising above them and making them count for something positive is something so amazing that nothing can change it. Reach down inside you and realize that there is greatness resident within you, dare to touch that greatness and allow God use it to make your days count – there will be no regrets, I can guarantee you. Living for the applause of others is the most unworthy cause you can set for yourself, instead set your priorities right – God First, Others Second and bask in the exhilaration of such a worthy cause.

To those who are committed to being a stain and not a sparkle, make a decision now – the world is big enough for everyone and no matter how hard you may rehearse for a role, if it is not yours, you will always be a very horrible stand-in. Be you because there is just one you and allow the freshness of you permeate the lives of those who encounter you.

Remember “When a man has put a limit on what he will do, he has put a limit on what he can do.” – Charles M. Schwab

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

Adios!

The Way of the Orchid……

Standard

Permit me to say that I have not been as available here as I am wont, not by personal choice but by the weight of events that have suddenly all come together all at once, not excluding the bad bout of flu that I had to wrestle through and overcome. I mean, bring it on! Not to sound blase in my remarks, I say that it has indeed been a wonderful week as usual, characterized by the unpredictability of Myoclonus, I have had my share of good and bad days. Barely had an hour’s sleep in 72 hours and entertained the gawking stares of the unenlightened, the passing on of friends and ‘friends’ and the beauty of meeting unique individuals who in their own little way within those few moments, injected some extra zest to the beauty of my unique personal challenges.

I have learnt to “Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you” – R. Ogunlaru and I give special mention to Siham (insha Allah! we’ll meet again), Mary – my own distinct Winnie with her boisterous desire to be by my side as much as possible and my guardian angel who despite the sutures from the operation on her thumb was so reluctant to let me out of her sight. When you give, you receive much more than you have given but for each of you – know that my life would be incomplete without you. And with every passing day that I am blessed to live, I commit to passing on every good deed I receive and burying the bad because hey! the world is already sorrowful enough so why choose to add more when all that is really needed is just that little gesture of kindness to just that one person. Despite the crunching setbacks of huge medical bills, I still choose to enjoy the times I have with my various therapists (Igor, Vas and Richie) because I am convinced that there is always a choice to make and I thank you all for making every new day just a bit more bearable.

Phew! I guess that is what happens when you keep so much bottled up inside that instead of a calculated trickle, there is a gush of all that you had wanted to say but have been unable to.

I love orchids! I recall back in the days, how quickly they could transform an environment both with its fragrance and the beauty of its floral arrangement. And today I still count orchids as one of my favorite flowers, I can still recall plucking off many a flower just to enjoy the sweet nectar contained within.  And then I grew up,……… and fell in love with biology. Now not only did I find a subject that was fun but this was one that allowed me to improve on my drawing (lots of beautiful pictures in the textbooks) but it suddenly explained more of the mysteries that I had come to fruitlessly ponder upon.  Learning about life and the whys have always been a thing for me but I drew the line at going into medicine (it just never appealed to me), now although because of my preferred choice of career, I had to drop biology but it still remains a subject of beauty and allure. I learnt about flowers and got to know more about my favorite orchids.

The orchid can be found in almost every continent but one of the amazing things about is this – because of an absence of an endosperm (sorry this is no biology class), in the course of pollination, it has to enter into a funny relationship with a type of fungi (gross!!!) and guess what? these fungi provide the necessary nutrients needed to germinate so that all species of orchids are reliant upon fungi to complete their life-cycles. Now the irony of this concise biology lesson is to draw an analogy that most of us have to face as individuals – were the orchid to be given an option, I am definite that getting involved with fungi would be the least of her choices however we are all subjects of creation and each of us has a distinct path to walk either by acceptance and choice or by compulsion and a higher authority. As I contemplate the past two years struggling with Myoclonus Dystonia, I realize that certain events in our lives are there to ensure that we walk our distinct paths and fulfill our unique purposes. Now, nobody in his or her right senses would opt for some pain or discomfort but what happens when we are thrust into a maelstrom of events that seem to have the singular objective of crippling us, shaking us and turning our little ideal worlds the wrong way up? Do we throw up our hands and let go of the towel or simply roll over and play possum?

The answer is a choice to make however life has a weird way of bringing out the best of us when we encounter some degree of discomfort, let us recall that we are creations of pleasure for a God who truly loves like nobody ever can.  Would it therefore be right to rile and wave our puny fists in His face when we are borne upon the winds, isolated and alone, tossed to and fro by the waves of life, to be deposited in a strange environment just for the sake of being reborn and reformed? For every orchid flower you see, pause and admire it but remember that there is the process behind it that has resulted in it becoming the epitome of beauty that it is. When we, like seeds are in the dark ground, torn away from the shelter and comfort of the world we were born into or we painstakingly created, devoid of companionship (like we were used to) instead of curling up into a ball and dying – let us appreciate that within and around us a chain of events are already set in motion to sustain us through those dark and dreary moments. The nutrients we need to stay alive are inexhaustible and inexplicably geared towards that purpose, the darkness of those early moments are soon to be pierced though by the warm ray of hope and light. We are seemingly unable to fend off the predators that bear fiercely down upon us, through the myriad of pains, twisted joints, trembling muscles, a neurological system that seems to have gone haywire and it sure seems that we have been wrongly created to suffer for no just course. And yet, we are not wholly consumed, for within our tired bodies and palpitating hearts still flickers life and with life, a hope to be chosen.

It may seem like we are all alone but there is never any vacuum in life if only we can choose to drag our eyes and attention from the claustrophobic dankness around us and acknowledge that as long as we yet live, we can choose to hope and dream because just like the little shoot that breaks through the ground, someday it will all be over and then we can truly realize that not only does death exist in life but more importantly life exists in death. As we die to the many comforts and perks that we had gotten used to, let us also realize that birthing and character development is a process and through the pangs of pain and discomfort, insomnia and the jerks, loss of movement in our limbs and a lack of control over our system – a process is being played out and the end is as certain as the sun rise every day. We are not alone through all this, He is working all things together for our good as long as we are totally reliant on Him. Not the ‘friends’ who have walked away from you in derision or the siblings who have prioritized every other thing above you, not the ones who love only in words and cannot find the actions to back it with, not the birds of carrion who circle in futility above you or the hyenas prowling around – definitely not these, but above and beyond them all is the fact that we are creatures of destiny and our destiny and purpose are charted towards good course as long as you give in totally to the One in charge.

There is nothing wrong with the world and its occupants, filled it may seem with a multitude of uncaring souls, just realize that “All true friendliness begins with fire and food and drink and the recognition of rain or frost. …Each human soul has in a sense to enact for itself the gigantic humility of the Incarnation. Every man must descend into the flesh to meet mankind.” – G.K Chesterton.  We are still part of this world and we can make that difference if we choose to, trusting and completely reliant on the truth that we are no freaks of nature but unique beings created and watched over with love by Him. And as we approach each day, unsure of what it may bring, let us also realize that we can make a difference if we choose to and completely astound the multitude of nonchalant and indifferent witnesses that are eagerly gathered around us because we can and because we understand;  A higher calling, A setting apart, A distinct purpose and mission……

“Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your talent and skill and work hard at…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” – D. Nicholls.  Arguably, many might ask where the chances are but do well to remember that we do not control the chances but we do control our choices and so endeavor to make those choices count. Live in the knowledge of the truth that life consists of moments and whilst we cannot recreate past moments or create future moments, we can make use of this moment so make the now count and then you can be sure to cherish it even when it is long gone and past.

Remember this “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” –  J.H ‘Groucho’ Marx. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34”
lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!

Catching The Glimpse…..

Standard

Oh my! Spent last night counting down the hours as I sought the very elusive sleep but that is not the point behind my getting on to my keypad. Yesterday morning I did something that was completely out of character for me.  Mind you, I had a torrid week – frequent bouts of sciatica, each one seemingly more severe than the other and even immediately after my hurriedly scheduled session with my favourite chiropractor and friend, I was almost scissored in two as I was hit by another bout however I guess that is how the proverbial cookie crumbles. Life is consistent in its assigned task of the gradual process of crumbling cookies, whichever way the cookie does stand, someday it gets crumbled – an inevitable end! But in the words of Martin Luther King Jnr “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man (situation/dystonia/FMD) can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” (emphasis mine)

And so as I yet again dealt with the arduous task of putting on my shoes (I am particular about that task because it certainly brings to bear all the control I can muster up just to perform that seemingly routine everyday chore), I decided to switch on my cute iBush HD television to distract my mind from the associated pains. And I had a mind-blowing experience as I listened to Oprah on Super Soul Sunday hosting popular American motivational speaker, Iyanla Vanzant and as I listened to her story, there were certain nuggets that hit me in the right place and made me catch that glimpse that we all need sometimes in our lonely sojourn down paths that we would never have chosen if we were given the chance to choose. I pushed aside the pain and straightened my back regardless of the tremors and intense pain along my spine because whether we choose to accept it or not, He speaks to us every moment – the question is what we have chosen to listen to.

We are blessed on all sides by gifts but most times we are not prepared to receive those gifts even when we are handed those gifts in hand. And there again, I am compelled to return to my choice subject – chance versus choice. All of us are given the chance to make an opportunity of our lives, whether we choose to acknowledge that we have been created to live a life and not solely existing for the reason of being a statistic in global population. That is an express manifestation of whatever choices we make because the chances will continue to inundate us on all sides and even as I trudge through this tunnel, I choose to catch a glimpse of the hope and rest that awaits me – knowing that every day brings a ray of hope that the cobwebs of depression can do nothing about. I look around me and I see countless others who are struggling with their own pains and hurts and I choose to realise that I can set mine aside and help them realise that in each of our darkest hours, nothing can stop the light from piercing through but it is our choice to catch that glimpse and move on or succumb to the gloom that so eagerly desires to clutch us in its embrace of cold hopelessness and depression.

“Each days dawn is like a recurrence of the first act of the Creation as if again a decree had gone forth: Let there be light. And as the earth whirls on its orbit, there sweeps westward a band of brightness, fringed by the half-light of daybreak. The suns rays, themselves all energy, bring new energy to every living thing.” – Anon E. Moss

And so each new day, I choose to wait and catch that glimpse of light, confident in the knowledge that as long as there is a ray then the whole essence of creation is and can at some moment in our existence be awash with the fullness of the light that so clearly illuminates our weaknesses, resentments, hurts, anguish, betrayals and gives us that blissful opportunity to choose to be born anew shedding all that so easily besets us and forging on with the sparkle renewed in our eyes and hope in our hearts that we can be of some assistance to just that one person who like so many of us have chosen to be swept along the rapid currents of life, not even taking a moment to appreciate the fineries and beauty of creation. I have spent many a nights, tossing in agony trying so anxiously to tell myself that pain is not synonymous with birth. But the truth remains that there must be labour pangs before something more beautiful is birthed.

Not giving in to the crushing weight of helplessness, so graciously expressed by the ignorance of many a physicians but realising that we can choose not to allow our backs be bent by whatever assails us. I was recently discussing with my friend, Mwenya and we both agreed that the time for change is not to be determined for us by anyone but that  the catalyst for change lies deep within us. Regardless of the hordes that trudge past us daily as we struggle with this elusive disorder, nobody can stop us from catching that glimpse associated with each new day. Putting aside the neighing of many, as they pretentiously whisper the usual words devoid of any sincerity and warmth, I acknowledge the few who despite their inability to fully comprehend what FMD is, still yet stand by, pledging their availability whenever the storms almost overwhelm me. I know that it is not about the path most travelled, it is about the courage to walk your own path and dare to be yourself. Pulling myself by my shoe strings and accepting that on each new section of this journey, there will always be just a few out there cheering me on. I admit that I will accept those few gifts, whispered in hushed tones and discreet gestures, knowing that each life I meet – there is something to pass on.

I realise that as the darkness swirls overhead, nothing can blot out that glimpse of hope and like many a sailors, perched on the wreckage of their vessels peering through the fog, someday I too with triumphant voice will loudly proclaim these words “LAND AHEAD! I have reached my destination” and whilst battered and bruised my body might be, my spirit is aflame with hope that victory is certain and sure. “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this liberty, and support and defend what has been so fiercely obtained. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means.”

Remember, to live a life or simply exist is a choice that must be made, nonetheless the fact is we were created for purpose.

פרידה עד שנפגש שוב בתזמון שלו עצמו

Adios!