Forging the link……

Forging the link

Forging the link

I somewhat, till this day, see myself as a hands-on type of bloke although going by prevalent circumstances, that phrase by itself seems untenable. The truth is that while design and handcraft has always appealed to me, I have also allowed the process of building things from scratch influence my daily actions. Growing up, my parents insisted that in addition to the traditional education, you had to learn a skill and that period of internship usually occurred between the end of high school and the beginning of college. I still hear the words. “God might favour you and send you to a strange environment and while others are clinging fiercely to the stereotyped job ladder; many bruised, bloodied and with dreams dashed – you can take a step back when you don’t land that dream job and begin doing something on your own.” Maybe that, to a very large extent has influenced my mindset when it comes to education and career.

For me, when the break came and it was time to ‘go learn a craft’, I opted for carpentry and photography. Carpentry, because the artisan who roofed my father’s city house was a very smart fellow, skilled in his work and despite having a aspeech impediment, was not fazed at all having a conversation with me. My choice of craftsmanship was instantly made when I found out Zippamore was in his third year at college and was actually self-sponsored, and the acquisition of that snippet of information pretty much killed the idea that some jobs are meant for some class of people. Yes, my parents ensured that there were no airs about us, we might not have been wealthy but we were not poor either. Both my parents were educated and held down white collar jobs and so it would have been quite easy to develop an air of privilege based solely on that, but I can tell you that they neither allowed or tolerated any of that foolishness. We earned what we got and learned that unto each person, a purpose lies, a path beckons and a destination awaits. I still remember the very first day I walked into the carpenter’s workshop and found the other world where brawn was almost as equal as brains, where I learned the necessity of taking care of yourself after being bloodied once or twice. Oh, it was an eye opener indeed.

Unfortunately, there were not many blacksmiths that we knew of but besides carpentry, blacksmithing had always appealed to me because I really loved working with metal. Throw in the classic Robert Louis Stevenson ‘Treasure Island’ into the mix that was my life then, and a blade, a spool of cotton and a match book became constant companions of mine. Nearly four decades after, my fascination with metals and their hidden potential still remains and now I am also an avid watcher of History Channel’s ‘Forged by fire’. The importance of design was also conveyed to me then because without a design to keep you on track, many days will be spent wandering around in circles. So it is truly impressive seeing how an otherwise innocuous piece of junk metal, steel scrap can be forged into a beautiful tool…..but there is a process before that junk becomes that beauty. Three essential features of any process; the furnace, the hammer and the anvil. You do not go interning at an active blacksmith’s forge dressed in duck whites because you sure are not going to remain that way within the first hour. Copious amounts of perspiration, lots of heavy lifting and wielding are inevitable elements as you try to draw out that steel into lengths and patterns that meet the specification of your design.


It is quite appropriate for life and its many events to be likened to a couple of days in the smithie’s. It is a process and if the steel could talk, I know for sure that sound mufflers (not just the ordinary ones) would be a critical tool because the screams of refusal from the steel would most definitely deafen you. But it doesn’t protest as it is thrust into the forge where it is left until it is almost white hot and only then can it be taken out and pounded by the hammer (pneumatic ones now) on the anvil till it has a rough semblance to the design that you had in mind. One lesson that I learned at an early age is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, it does not matter how long or heavy the chain is, its fate is down to that weakest link. At the shipyards, those huge anchors that keep the ship in place are usually at the end of a long chain and more often, a key part of a ship mate’s daily role is to inspect that anchor and chain to ensure that the each link on that massive chain is devoid of cracks, fracture or any form of impediment because when that order “heave to” is bellowed out and the anchor is released, just that one weak link could determine the safety of the vessel and the lives on board.

We are in the summer and each day is a struggle for me because I find myself totally exhausted with just the least amount of work done. Heat ironically is one of the triggers for the primary generalised dystonia and myoclonus that I have and so I would trade Alaska or Melbourne for a proposed vacation in a heartbeat. However I know that you cannot go through life having just one season and so I try to stay as hydrated as possible, take as many showers I can, forego the layered clothing and still cope with a body that is hurting in almost every joint at each day’s end. At the onset of this unique journey that I am presently on, I learned painfully that there are smarter ways of getting a task done than just applying sheer muscle. Despite the number of comments I receive about how ‘toned’ I still am, it amuses me because I really wish I could for just one day, instruct my brain to let my nerves and muscles be. The tremors are physically exerting and just having a severe dystonic bout lasting more than an hour is pretty scary to even imagine but life is a process.

These days, I have taken an entirely different approach, I choose to be as welcoming as I can be especially on social media because if only individuals could read on the face what each person is going through, I am optimistic that our world will change for the better. Being a member of so many support groups has and is still an honour to me, I have encountered so many people from all over the world with medical conditions like mine and just being a member of such groups continues to drive home each day, the fact that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Each day, somebody somewhere is having a really torrid time and being strong enough to utter these three words “I need help/prayers” is actually a testament to the intrinsic strength that defies human comprehension. Having a private conversation with someone who’s almost at their tether’s end; encouraging them on, reminding them of the fact that to every beginning, there is an inevitable end is so gratifying because it takes my mind off of my own struggles and lend an ear or a shoulder to someone else.

Entirely disregarding the picture that we may present, like two totally inebriated chaps exiting the pub in the wee hours of a new day, we prop each other up and stagger on, choosing to ignore the ignorant yet scathing looks and comments, we acknowledge that we are a chain and if one of us goes down, then we all go down. It does not matter if the ache in my neck is killing me, or I can barely get out of bed, when someone cries out for help, I choose to be there because as long as my vocal chords or fingers don’t tap out on me, there is something I can do because I am a link in that chain. As we constantly encounter life’s events, I choose to see this dystonia as the forge and regardless of how long I spend in it, I am confident that the finished product would be worth the pain and agony. The longer I spend in the forge, the better and stronger I will emerge and as the hammer and the anvil painfully stretch me out, I choose to remember that there is a design to my life. A design that was not drawn by me but one that in due time, show off every strength, facet, allure and usefulness that had hitherto been buried within.

God’s design is not flawed, that I tell myself each day and when the heat of the furnace threatens to becloud my senses or the pounding of the hammer seems like it is going to irreparably break me, I find comfort in these whispered words; “I am being strengthened and purified and designed. I cannot rely on my own strength because I truly do not know my own strength. I am but a link in this chain and I refuse to be the weakest link!’

Remember that if God gave His very best for us when we least deserved it, He has by design placed us as a link in a chain of lives and therefore nothing is good enough to hold us back from giving. We are all distinct and unique signature pieces of God’s superb craftsmanship. There is no solace in the darkness, no display of strength in pretention, no truth in a cunningly crafted veneer of falsehood because at the very end, you have nothing but a life that has been lived either by the choice of never to be the weakest link or a life that like the will o’ wisp will be forgotten once it has barely even begun. There is no misery in sincerity, no victory in glorying affliction, no weakness in vulnerability however at our life’s end, all but nought will be laid bare and even as the anchor buries itself in the sand, our chain of lives will either stand in testament to a purposeful life or shear apart in dismay.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות


Drawing the Curtains……


Well here I am again, taking solace in the expression of my heart and the everyday encounters that many are oblivious to but with each passing moment, there are lessons to learn, memories to capture and the inevitability of our sojourn here on earth. I’m behind the window side counter of Birley Sandwiches in the very busy Canary wharf, just had to take the weight of my feet before I succumb to the pull of the floor eagerly beckoning……just a little rest, maybe a little slumber but I know that isn’t what I should give in to for now.

It’s amazing when we as individuals choose to give in feebly to the erroneous feelings of the very emotions that hold us captive without acknowledging the meaning of the liberty and freedom we have been created to walk in. I am glad that I made the effort to go across town after having my morning appointment rescheduled, in a bid to understand why some of us cling desperately to what we shouldn’t whilst that which we ought to, floats past us completely evading our unstretched hands. Life in itself is dynamic, putting aside my desire for the solace of the Sloan Square park, I pulled my weary limbs yet again to make this unappreciated trip and console myself with these very words “in the effort lies victory” and so whether my trip across town regardless of my weary limbs, is an effort in futility, I know I am victorious.

I recall my very first role in my elementary school play and vividly recall the huge velvet drapes condoning us of from the vast auditorium filled with parents and guardians, even as we hastily tried to put finishing touches to our respective roles before emerging. Finally the moment dawned and with the flutter of a million butterflies in my stomach and the parting terrifying words ‘break a leg’ still resounding in my ears, I made my way timidly onto the stage and the rest passed in a whirl of vague minutes. As we all made our way to the stage for our stage bow, I admittedly acknowledged that all the hours of practice had come and gone, irrespective of how sterling a performance it was, it was over.

As I ponder upon these memories I recall the words of my just concluded phone conversation with a friend who feels that life without commitment in any form is safest…..”Cowards die many times before their death but the valiant taste of death but once” -W.S….to this I dare say that it is better to wear out than to rust out and he who can but conquer his fears, be it result in a moment of vulnerability or a lifetime of faith unflinching, that is truly a life lived ….

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages….” – William Shakespeare

As I sojourn through this life, I acknowledge that life is indeed a stage and as we put our final rehearsals to our roles whether wholeheartedly or haphazardly, we must at some point make our way past those curtains and play our role. And just as those huge velvet curtains shield us from our audience, we must emerge and do that which we were made to do. The question that begs asking is how well we played our roles because whether in a lead role, supporting or even as a voiceless member of the cast, life must at the end, like any movie come to a finish, reveal your name and your assigned role.

For many of us, we must come to terms with these options and choose. To simply be in a name in the cast or be more than a name, be a memory that will go unforgotten in the lives of those that we encountered. “You can’t leave footprints in the sands of time if you’re sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave butt prints in the sands of time?” -Anon E. Moss
I dare to believe that we are much more than an unrecognisable pair of butt prints in the sands of time but now we must choose to get off our butts and emerge from behind the curtains and play that role to the best of our abilities because that is what has been assigned to you.

As I make my way through life, besieged by the mysteries shrouded from medical science, I choose to make sure that no double plays my role and whether I am weary beyond imagination or isolated by incessant pain experiences, there are multitudes out there beginning with that one person who just craves an injection of hope, a glimpse of some ray of light in their darkness, a kind word or gesture, a token to say ‘you’re not unappreciated or alone’…..and I choose to be that answer to that unheard prayer. And just as I’ve had and still experience the joys of fatherhood in the life of my daughter and share similar moments with other worthy parents, so also do I look forward with pride to seeing the results of seeds sown blossoming in all of its finery.

We all have a role to play and someday, we will know beyond a shadow of uncertainty whether we treated life in itself as a stage or just chose to ignore and continue in our deceitfully spun cocoon of falsehood and lies. Make your appearance on life’s stage such a memory in the sands of time with each day that we live in, that when the curtains are finally dropped, ours will be a life devoid of regrets. Now I must continue my journey, for every second counts and I want it to count for something and for someone so get out of that comfort zone and make your stage appearance such a phenomenal one that even after your exit, your audience will forever be glad they met you.

And remember………………we were made to live for His pleasure and not just exist.

 פרידהעדשנפגששובחבריםיקרים ….