Digging In……


It sure feels good to be recalled back into relief duty (as active as I can muster up on the day of assignment) and it really cannot have come at a more opportune time especially coming on the heels of the last medical consultation I had with a so-called medical expert supposedly well versed in this field but who is clearly unable to bend down and lace her own shoes. Even as I waited with bated breath, watching the minutes count down in my eagerness to close that chapter, I could not help but remind myself that for as long as we live, the best helping hands you will ever get are right there at the ends of your own arm. I look around with unfeigned disgust at the path many of us have taken, choosing to base our life choices at the behest of some person who knows no more than you can tell him. There is no end to knowledge and…” be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” – Sol. We can never rewrite the story of humanity and its creation, there is one source and one end.

It still beats me hollow at the insensitivity of man to the sufferings and agony of those around them whilst dwelling on their own selfish need for self-aggrandizement and for them, that is enough driving force however no matter how long you choose to bury your head in the sand, that is just what you will be – An orifice for the sands of time as time blows past you, covering whatever feeble tracks you may have hitherto laid. One truth has withstood the test of time, that truth has empowered generations past and given them the opportunity to seize and bequeath the legacies, many so limply take for granted today. That truth is WE CAN CHOOSE! Despite your admissions of helplessness and dependence, that truth still stands against you – what then will your course of action be? I look around and behold many who have chosen to bury their heads in the sand but remember just like the flotsam carried around by the waves, someday you will be deposited on some forlorn shore with nobody even recognising that you ever existed.

I recall with some degree of nostalgia, the lives of those who have soldiered through life, battling courageously against the health challenges that seemingly buffeted them on all sides. Many, today, stand victorious behind the shroud confident of the fact that to every season, there is a beginning and an end. And for those who have made the right choices, your end is sure and certain – for it is all working together for your good. I evaluate the relationships I have participated in, just like the sheep differs from the goat, so many of these relationships have come and just like the proverbial house built on sand, they stand crumbled with nothing worthy upholding them. And yet still a few stand, and many more are still being forged even now. I recall the conversations I have had with friends, the sheer horrors and experiences received at the hands of people they called friends and I ask, who gives man the right to seek his own pleasure at the detriment of another. I am still standing, not by any measure of my own strength but BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN MADE FOR A PURPOSE.

“Man has a choice and it’s a choice that makes him a man.” – John Steinbeck. How many of us have so eagerly given up that God-given ability to choose and have instead chosen to dwell their hopes on the utterances of  others. What makes another better than you? It is by your desire to cast away your ability to choose, and defer instead to another. I read about diverse solutions proffered that are so eagerly grabbed without taking cognizance of the fact that you can make your own path, by choice. I am appalled at the weakness of our generation as we like sheep without shepherd mill around with no direction, counting and hoping instead that somebody else will make a better plan for our lives. For in the words of Thomas Carlyle “The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Undaunted by what life tosses at you,we just have to keep on jostling and being jostled because like every farmer knows, taking the roughest road with your harvest of potatoes is the best way to categorize your harvest – the best of us rising to the top and the least sinking beneath in their inability to make their own choices and take a stand.

As I pour out my heart on this page, I acknowledge that sometimes, we just have to admit that we are on our own and the moment we can rise above the gloominess of that circumstance, the rays of light like the javelin will pierce through our gloom and cause the long sought illumination to become a reality. Whatever things you have unconsciously surrendered to, this is a call to shake off those shackles, dig in and birth the jewel within you. Nothing of value lies on the surface, deep down within each and every one of us, even as we are assailed on all sides by the insensitivity of man and the trials of life, there is something of inestimable value which nobody can take from us. Let go off all the past hurts and resentments, the betrayals and shallow mindedness of those who failed to recognise us for who we are and stand straight and tall. For as we do that, our weather-beaten brows scarred by these medical challenges, then we can truly utilise our helping hands and dig in to reveal the beauty of who we are meant to be. There can be no song without a story, no ballad without a tale but in all of these – nothing is closer to the truth than this……..It is in our hands, not another’s!

I have known huge financial burdens, some days seemingly overwhelming and clutched straws in expectation of the hands of others. I have walked through emotional and physical traumas, and yet I still stand. Regardless of the cowardice of those whom I once called friends, today I have made better ones and despite the bills and uncertainty of what tomorrow may hold, I choose to make the best of what I have today. For in giving, I receive. In assisting others, I get the urge and strength to plow on knowing that no matter how long the tunnel is, there is light at the end and though I stumble and fall from the sheer weight of this burden, I will yet pick myself up and soldier on. Digging in and making use of that which has been unerringly placed within me for times like this, I have made my choice, and that I stand by be it in isolation or not because I know that the less travelled path is usually the most difficult but the end in itself is a victory.

Remember this fact, we were made to live and not exist.



The Solitude of pain……


“Where, O death, is your victory?    Where, O death, is your sting?”

Yesterday, I longed with outstretched arms for my final triumph……triumph over death, a victory sure and certain in Him!

Friday marked the end of a horrid week and just like a child watching the shadows disappear with the dawning of a new day, ironically but whimsically I stayed awake to watch it exit and reach with gladness the joys of a brand new day. And no, I mean it literally because for all of us, death is a subject best left at bay until with cold icy fingers, it snatches away someone very close and dear to you and that is when it hits you; the inevitability of death. And what better conquest than not just to acknowledge there is victory even in death but to also acknowledge that the triumph is real and can be yours when you believe.

Mind you, my longing was not due to the near death encounter I had trying belatedly to get off the Jubilee line, the doors swooshing close with pneumatic force, trapping my companions – my staff (Simple) and my mini holdall. Thankfully, I was not as fast as I used to be because I would have been caught by the doors performing their monotonous yet essential task. Yet again, even then, I marvel at the good in humanity for those who without a thought give it manifest when suddenly a need is thrust upon them. Two commuters, one inside and another outside the train, sprang to life and wrestled the doors open, freeing me with a cheeky grin on their faces even as I bestowed my gratitude on them. For them, it was just another call to duty – these are the everyday heroes who go unannounced whilst knighthoods are being bestowed on people just for the fun of it, for doing what they have always done, nothing extraordinary reminding me again that present day societal life is a whirlpool, sucking the good and expelling flotsam and debris that is frantically clutched to and termed good by the crowd.

It was the realisation as I lay upon the examination table, feeling the gentle hands of Richmond trying to restore blood circulation to my spine and my constantly overworking muscles responding to the chaotic signals being emitted by my brain. The torque like sensation in my lumbar, the pain like the lapping waves of the sea – intense most times and tender but still there, blepharospasm and facial twitches, poor proprioception……just that realisation that even they just like everyone else can never understand how you feel and when I am inundated by the  incessant and more often insincere ‘how are you doing?’, it is also a stark reminder that I am all alone in this and when I look down at the only helping hands I have got and realise even as they hurt that I might just have exhausted all my innate strength to go on, I have a choice – to see beyond the blepharospasm and look upwards, embracing in all humility the inexhaustible reserves of strength available. I have made peace with my best friend after I laid into him after a very aggravating call from one who should know better after nigh on 2 decades.

The question ‘is it curable? can it be managed?’ gingerly put across to me by the lift operator as I made my way to the ticket floor  was one filled with concern and with the clouds already threatening to overwhelm me, I smiled and nodded, still feeling very isolated and alone – not by choice but by the circumstances in which I am in because in all sincerity, nothing brings that realisation quicker than when you are being probed by different medical experts and hear varying comments from these medical experts. They do not understand! Nobody human really can except you have walked those shoes or are walking in them….

“Row upon row of cheering spectators

Crowd the vast arena full

But there is only one man who really knows

And he is the one who faces the bull”

Now if you have ever watched a toreador do his thing with so much panache, you always fail to realise that each time the bull charges at him, that is just a man against over 2000 lbs of rage and muscle. He is a man just like you, and whilst he may be skilled in his act, he is still a man. For many who have been isolated by pain and have given into the solitude of pain, this is for you because I know what it feels. And just as the friendly rail official remarked that I looked very comfortable stretched out on the wooden seat at West Ham (after of course asking if I was alright), I recalled the lyrics of Bon Jovi

“I wanna lay you down in a bed of roses / For tonight I’ll sleep on a bed of nails / I wanna be just as close as your Holy Ghost is / And lay you down on a bed of roses”

acknowledging with clarity and certainty, the unfailing closeness of Him despite all that is going on presently and knowledge that the shadows are being chased back as each new day dawns with its own cache of memorable moments and a new set of unique individuals like mentally impaired Teddy who would give anything just to lay in a bed of roses and that is what keeps me going. The words of encouragement from my best friend and father accompanied with those of  Kalthume and the very few who have and are still standing with me, each day bringing in someone new even if it is just briefly. We are all made to achieve some good in someone else and whether we choose to fulfil that role, the choice is ours. Mine has been made and yet again, I pull back the curtains of despair and reach down with aching and cramped hands to my shoelaces………..and pull myself up again. This is not over until I say it is, I too love the opera and can attain those notes the fat lady can because I am as unique as she is.

“A man dies …. only a few circles in the water prove that he was ever there. And even they quickly disappear. And when they’re gone, he’s forgotten, without a trace, as if he’d never even existed. And that’s all” – Wolfgang Borchert

Today, again I reiterate my choice – I am not just gonna be a mere ripple in this vast waters of life, alone or accompanied. I choose to be an inspiration to as many. I choose to give a shoulder and a listening ear to as many as desire it. I choose to wear out not rust, and finally amidst a blaze of glory, watch as my flames burn down with many a hearts warmed by the special privilege I had of meeting with them. I recall Sanaa, who just turned 12 on Wednesday as she was wheeled aboard the EL2 in her wheelchair under the watchful eyes of her carer, Vanessa. With a huge smile plastered on her face as she tried to make words and cope with her mental challenges, I reminded myself that I have enjoyed the privileges she may never know, for nigh on four decades and so the least I can do is make her smile just a mite wider. With a shy farewell we parted ways and that brief encounter for me gives me the zest to continue, regardless of a body that is responding to chaotic neural signals and the incessant pain. I know that I can and I choose to.

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

 פרידהעדשנפגששובחבריםיקרים ….