Bucking the bull…..


Stay on top!

“Bullfight critics row on row, crowd the vast arena full. But only one man’s there who knows. And he’s the man who fights the bull.” – Anon E. Moss

It is one of those days; those days where the storm clouds are all menacing and dark, when the sun has all but extinguished its rays and the air feels charged with static electricity. Those days when the waiting feels ominous and a sense of foreboding surrounds you. Those days when even an umbrella would probably want to take the day off, with defeat waiting to be embraced. It is the calm before the storm but this calm in itself has taken on another definition. This is one of those times when the very thought of just stepping outside the comfort of your home tilts between being adventurous and being insane; and for many, their lives are just an unending series of unexplainable catastrophic events, of harsh storms; winds howling and shrieking, trashing anything she can lay her fingers on. Yes, it is one of the those days.

I have bull-riding on my to-do list along with deep scuba diving, hand-gliding, car racing…..yes they are still on my list because before dystonia, there was the list. Now, I know that for professional bull riders in America, the rider must stay on top of the bucking and obviously enraged bull (hell bent on unseating you and possibly goring you to death), cling to the bull rope with one hand for eight seconds and not touch the bull with your free hand. Now that in itself is no mean feat because those 8 seconds can sometimes seem like an eternity when you are on the bull’s back, but in addition there are conditions to be met and these conditions are what the judges use to evaluate each performance. The bull rope is not something specially made, it is simply a flat braided fiber rope that is wrapped around the chest of the bull directly behind the front legs of the bull. To this fiber rope, the rider must hold on and stay seated for 8 seconds, if for obvious reasons the rider cannot remain seated on that bucking bull for the 8 seconds duration then the judges declare it ‘no score’. Not 7.5 seconds, 8 seconds! Despite it being called ‘ the most dangerous eight seconds in sports’ I still have it on my list because the list on its own is a statement of defiance and declaration that buck all you can, I am going to ride this storm till the end

However, like the wild enraged bull, life can present events that can and will buck you, attempt to unseat you and generally just be the worst thing that could ever happen to you. The question then is how do you manage the bucking bull that more often than not, you are compelled to ride at some point in your life. The difference between the success of your performance as a bull rider is to a great extent determined by the mindset with which you go into the pen. While many are still processing the fact that they are no more spectators, the pen is opened and the ride begins, and I can bet you that many never make it beyond the pen. The successful bull rider prepares himself for just that 8 seconds, knowing very well that it might be the beginning of greater things or the end of a season. Just 8 seconds, but with lots of preparation and a mindset that has so finely tuned itself to time that even if the horn signalling the completion of the ride fails to sound, the rider knows enough to make a dismount and give way to the next rider; either as an inspiration or as example of what not to do.

Being an avid watcher of bull riders, I have watched people tossed many feet into the air and come crashing down to the hard packed earth, I have seen some stomped on by the bull and even with all the distractions and the attempts of the rodeo clowns or bull fighters, occasionally the bull satisfies itself by doing a victory lap around the arena with the unfortunate rider impaled on its horns. A gory death indeed but we are not here to talk about death, gory or not, because death in itself is an inevitability for everyone. Alas, like every other thing; death marks the end of a season and the beginning of another. Back when I was younger, I always stated that it was better to leave this earth in a blaze – with so much fanfare that it would leave a searing impression on the minds of those that were opportuned to witness it. Now I know better, because it is not the moment that is seared in memories but how you lived till that moment of transition.

Dystonia in so many ways, is akin to riding a bull. It just doesn’t stop at dystonia or Parkinson’s Disease, it applies to every storm that you encounter in your life’s journey. And whilst you may find yourself prepared or unprepared, there is that window of opportunity to quickly come to terms with the situation you are in and grab a hold of that rope because that flat braided fiber rope is all you can cling to once the pen is opened. I have since come to terms with the fact that life does throw you curve balls at times but being able to respond and grasp the reality is what keeps you from being just another wounded rider. Am I going to allow myself be the jewel adorning the curved horn of an enraged bull as it trots around the arena or will I hold on until the 8 seconds is up, successfully dismount and give the next rider something to shoot for? Like we all know 8 seconds is not really that much of a time frame but while you are seated on top of that bull, it will seem like eternity. Regardless of how loud the applause is from the spectators, you have to embrace the fact that it is down to just two players – you and the bull.

As the critics holler their disdain for your ride or critic unfairly the style you use, remember that they are safely seated behind a huge barricade and rarely will they do more than just critic. However, amidst the spectators and other players, there are a few who are there to ensure you get done with the ride and dismount without severely injuring yourself. The rodeo clowns will do their bit when the time comes but you have to take charge and remember it’s just 8 seconds. For as long as life exists, we need to apply the right knowledge to situations as they come up. Bull riding is not the time to grab the bull by the horns, it is the time to hold onto that lifeline that you have so graciously been given. The fiber rope could be past experiences, it could be lessons learned, it could the kindly offered advise many years ago, it could be the out-stretched hand of a stranger but you have to recognise it for what it is or lose your seat even before the pen is opened.

And so remember this honest prayer as you press on

“Dear Lord, I have this feeling in my heart
when I slide down on my bull to do my part

It taught me a lot about life and
what it means to hold on tight

It showed me pain 
respect and all that is right

Lord, forgive me for taking my life into my own hands 
Cos being a bull rider has been my life’s plan

So please God, don’t let this bull take my life from me;
in happiness and humility, a winner I will ride to be, Amen!”

Remember that smouldering ashes can either mark the end of something that was once great or it can be the birthplace of the phoenix, the choice is yours to make.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות



Second chances…..


Second Chances….


“A lifetime isn’t forever, so take the first chance, don’t wait for the second one! Because sometimes, there aren’t second chances! And if it turns out to be a mistake? So what! This is life! A whole bunch of mistakes! But if you never get a second chance at something you didn’t take a first chance at? That’s true failure.” – C. Joybell C.

I am feeling slightly whimsical as I share this amazing second chance that I am getting because it seems to me more and more each day that to many of us, life is a game of numbers and whilst there might some deep seated conviction in that school of thought, I dare to remind us of the age long story of the seven blind men of Mumbai who after years of walking in blindness from birth were so fascinated by the different tales of the magnificent beast called the elephant. And so the story goes, that they were given their first chance of meeting this creature and like most blind men, their senses of comprehension were to a great extent determined by their sense of feel. The end result was quite compelling because depending on the anatomy of the elephant that they felt, their description was inextricably defined by what they felt. To one, it was a rope; to another it was a wall and yet to another it was a snake, a tree trunk and so on and on. Now I dare to surmise that our own comprehension of life is largely defined by our experiences and so dare to take on new opportunities at defining life for yourself and whilst you may not be entirely wrong, realize that nobody but the Creator has the full picture.

It is the wee hours of another day and I am as usual unable to sleep, tossed down my levetiracetam and my gabapentin and my clonazepam and still sleep eludes me but then it has never been about the things that you cannot do but those things that you can when you can and so instead of me griping about this bout of insomnia, I choose to spend the time doing something I love. I have moved into a different part of the world borne on the tails of medical research, the search for a solution to this neurological disorder and divine purpose and it is actually more like a breath of revitalizing wind because I can now say that what I had in the past compares in no way to what I have now. I was blown away by the unfeigned interest by the consultants at one of the world’s renowned Institute for Rehabilitation and Research and despite the rigorous examination conducted, I had the overwhelming sense of being in the right place at the right time. In the words of my PCP, this is going to be a long and expensive battle but again what victory can best be described as sweetened except one that has been hard fought, for indeed the spoils of victory are best appreciated when the bones are screaming from the fatigue of engagement….so bring it on! I’m okay today. I’ll be okay tomorrow. And the next day after that I’ll still be okay. But in a year you will see me, I’ll be amazing.

I am inundated on all sides by the feeble attempts of those who stand close, trying to bring me down but life’s best lessons are learnt in the valleys of adversity for therein you can but learn and truly learn what it means to encourage yourself in The One who defines you. I have met a couple of new people that I already know are going to be an inextricable part of my story and that is what family is about. I have always had etched at the back of my mind that there can exist no vacuum in life and it is a personal choice to set your worries aside and delve deep into the life of one who seemingly seems more burdened than you. For in serving, there really lies leadership. We are surrounded on all sides by individuals who are too scared to be themselves but prefer instead to lurk in the shadows of who they think the world wants them to be and that I know is one battle that you will never win. For in our individuality lies the uniqueness of our paths on earth and these paths must be taken whether they appear as a first chance or a second chance, it is up to you. I just found out that my kid sister is moving into their own apartment and that is a worthy venture and I celebrate with them however truth be told that the golden fleece is usually never where we expected it to be and so the onus is on us to bestir ourselves of lethargy and ascertain our purpose and go after it.

I have been assailed most severely by the intricacies of this journey with Myoclonus and Spino celebral Disease but I made the choice not to be swallowed up by the feelings of isolation and even as the icy flakes and the winds threatened to push me towards wandering around in hopelessness, I made a choice to just stop and look back at where I have come and realize that where I am going is just a matter of getting my bearings right. There has to be for each and every one of us, that point where we consciously cease whatever we are doing and take our bearings in order to get to where we ought to be. Spending vital moments wallowing in resentment and bitterness will definitely take you no further than where you have already found yourself and I say again that it is never too late to begin again. Out with the muddy, sordid experiences of the past because then and only then can the light of God’s leading clearly illuminate our paths and guide us to an end that defies our feeble understanding.

“Some things just couldn’t be protected from storms. Some things simply needed to be broken off…Once old thing were broken off, amazingly beautiful thing could grow in their place.” – Denise Hildreth Jones
We have before us yet another chance to get it right and today is the right time, and just like Steve Martins in the classic movie ‘Leap of Faith’, we just have to trust someone that can be trusted and begin from there because when you are hitched right, you will get to realize that with Him is no variableness or shadow of turning. What He says He will do, He surely will but pause and take a bearing and realize that the chance that awaits you right now, as scary as it may seem is the one that you just have to take and with those few tottering steps, every new day brings in such an infusion of strength that you can only attest that you are better off than wherever you were before. It just has to start with a decision to let go of the past and allow it build up those muscles and resolve that you never knew you had.

“I have become convinced that God thoroughly enjoys fixing and saving things that are broken. That means that no matter how hurt and defeated you feel, no matter how badly you have been damaged, God can repair you. God can give anyone a second chance.” – Melody Carson

Remember that what makes you family is not the blood you share with a few but the loyalty and sense of commitment to our unique paths and purpose with the many others out there who like you have made their commitment to not be put down by whatever life throws at them.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו