Bent not broken….

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Beauty of Nature

Today is my birthday! And in line with the actual definition of the word, I was born on a Wednesday and notwithstanding the fact that I was born preemie, I choose to celebrate my birthday every week. In my journey here on earth, I have learned that it  is usually those life-transforming events that shape our character and influence our decisions. And so with this intolerable dystonia, I have learned that more often than not, the frequent insouciance I encounter is a direct expression of ignorance; ignorance in terms of knowledge and ignorance in terms of life’s purpose, while the natural reaction to ignorance can be scathing and harsh, there is still a choice to be made – React or Respond.

Considering the timeline that I have as a result of dystonia, it still amuses me that we still associate pedigree to what can be almost valued as worthless. I had the privilege of speaking at a meeting on what dystonia is (surprisingly it is still relatively unknown even as we wind down another decade in the 21st century!) and what really reminded me of why sharing our experiences is such a distinct honor, was the rapt attention of my audience and the fact that a few would leave with the knowledge to live as humans. The ability to tell ourselves the truth is something that can be trifled with, ending in irreparable sorrow however life is a platform of learning nonetheless as is the case with every academic setting, there will always be the hecklers and those who choose to be distracted.

“Where are you from?” is usually a question imbedded within the first five statements uttered by people to me. My origins? That in itself is a topic for another post however I always strive to comment on the fact that I have been at both extremes – abundance and lack, have had the privilege of living and working in four different continents but despite what many would exclaim in terms of sentiments, the nature of our living is still a continuing study for me. I remember the disaster of a hurricane and the desolate pictures of the aftermath and it is almost mind boggling to reconcile the before and after however what conveys the most poignant message is not in the destruction to property but the resilience of victims. Resilience that even though life chucks boulders at us, and we are utterly astonished at how bent over we are, under the crushing weight of these boulders but yet we can spring upright with the passage of time if we choose.

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Bent but Unbroken

Hooke’s theory of elasticity does not apply to the human being because like the supple trunk of a young acacia tree, you can bend it till its topmost leaves share the same dirt as its roots however when you let it go, it springs back because its growth is upwards. I can be seen as reticent when there is the heated discourse of how well life has treated us and then the popular game of comparison commences because I know that it takes wisdom for one to acknowledge that life has its seasons and thus prepare for the changes that accompany such seasonal changes. Unfortunately, asking for a helping hand is still largely construed as an opportunity to re-emphasize current economic and financial comfort, however I have learned that the act of bending down to an upstretched arm is also a check on your suppleness.

Even as I watch the huge strides taken by humanity through technology, there is a huge dearth in terms of carrying along all those virtues that make us human. I am bent over but definitely not broken, and the hope of that realization powers me through some really bleak days. With the frenzy of today’s living, we are wont to satisfy ourselves with fleeting glimpses as we rush through life and thus erroneously capture postures wrongly, seeing bent as broken. Alas even the broken can be fixed but when our change-over terminal looms ahead but we cling so passionately to the comfort of the moving train, how then do we ever expect to progress in life. I realize that habits formed can be difficult to break but it is a task that can be made easier when we admit that we are all works in progress and life is a journey; because when we acknowledge that life is a journey then we can understand that journeys mean progression.

There is no standing still and yes the view from the mountain top is so exhilarating and usually lulls one into a false sense of security but remember life and progression go together. The choice to build our fortress on the mountain top simply reveals our lack of understanding because what happens when we must go down to the valley; do we choose to stagnate and decay on the mountain top dulled into a false sense of reality or do we fall over and stay down preferring instead to be content with the diminishing memories of the past even as the present ticks away. There is no joy in the house of sorrow however there is ample opportunity to learn and be schooled for the events of the future. Just as the sun arises each day so must it set so that life can continue, and no matter how long the daylight lasts, the night when there is little or no light must precede it.

Borrowing the words of Albert Einstein, ‘Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’

פרידה עד שנפגשנו שוב בתזמון שלו, וייתכן שאהבתו של אלוהים להיות אמיתית לך!

Adios!

Flintlock, stone and barrel…

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“The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Geez! This has me reeling from so many emotions however I presume its the inevitable result of not doing something in a long while and it kind of reminds me of the phrase “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was over 6 months ago….”. Now this is less a confession but more of a sharing of my experiences and utilizing the experiences garnered during various encounters to first of all hoist myself up (just incase I have slipped down little bit) and then at least one other person who really needs this.

Its more like beginning another phase as I write this post because it truly is the end of one phase, prelude to the beginning of another. Am I truly grateful and blessed for this concluding phase? A definite and resounding yes, because I have been given the priviledge of meeting varying individuals for varying amounts of time and simply just trying to learn more than I know and when possible, letting another person know what makes me stand out. Am I completely free of Myoclonus? No however I still stand by my choice and bullishness not to give in to some disorder as I make each day on this personal journey count for something. Medical conditions are just that – they are conditions and not the manual for your life or who you want to be.

I spent a couple of days in San Diego, California and there I was opportuned to actually get to see and hold a flintlock and sure it was part of a priced collection owned by an artist whose ancestor was one of those real men back in the days. Days where boys grew to become men and lived as men, confronting life and its challenges head on without flinching. Men who understood instinctively what terms like family, parenthood, moral virtues stood for. Men who aged gracefully even as the threads of their lives unravelled as will ours as we approach our destination. So much has taken place that have been so significant that it drives home the fact that not only are we living in the last days of this world but that every little gesture made from a sincere compassionate heart reverbrates thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion…..these are virtues that are rapidly becoming extinct even as we all whole-heartedly apply ourselves to making a living as against just living life and learning.

One remarkable thing about the flintlock is how powerful a little spark can be, and when applied at the right time, the results were astounding (pretty sure whoever stood at the other end of the barrel back in its days will so emphatically concur). Now, one statement I read has stuck in my memory and even though it was used in the context of driving but I do say that it applies to life in itself……‘be a pebble in a rapidly flowing stream’….and that I dare say is not too difficult to imagine. We are all created equal but we definitely do not end up as equals and the difference is  in the choices we each have made and get to make each and every day. Do we choose to live in the past (allowing the experiences of the past so cloyingly overwhelm us that we limit ourselves) or do we learn from the past so as to create our own future because that is what our hands and hearts are for.

Undeniably, the flintlock is the past but it played its vital role in the world we live in today and even though it is more relic than relevant but the point is that it played its role. I have come across individuals who are yet to determine who they are, least of all applying themselves and my question usually is ‘how many versions of you actually exist (updated or obsolete)?’ And this question usually goes to drive home my bewilderment in how some just choose to do nothing with their lives. In our own little worlds, we can at least be the stone that strikes the flint. We can choose today to resist the clamour and popular option of being nobody in today’s world or put aside all vestiges of complacency and just do something. Fail if you must because in failing, at least you have learnt one way not to do what you just attempted. There is no better art than attempt because opportunities of all kinds assail us everyday and whilst we refuse to do a thing, the opportunity passes and most times, we unfortunately do not get to see it again.

No better person than Thomas Edison in recent history could have put it better; “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Take a shot or a swing at life, and if you miss, try it again because life in itself is a journey that we all must undertake and we are going to be remembered for our indifference or for our efforts. I honestly do not keep count of the things I regret not doing but I do look forward to keeping a consistent effort in making my life something I would be proud of in retrospect. Notwithstanding the limitations of this frail body, there is more in life that we can by just doing something (and I do want to emphasise – do something that is right). Regardless of how numbered our days, we each have something to bring to the table but first of all we must find it lest we have nothing to give. There is much joy in giving freely anyway….

There will definitely be storms (that’s one characteristic of life) but those storms help shape us especially when we realise that our own strength is puny by itself, and His strength is there just for the asking. As the water flows past the pebble, and weathering occurs – realise that no matter how smooth that pebble becomes, it is still capable of igniting a fire when used properly. Take a look around you and see that hurting person close by, and realise that nothing happens by chance. You are where you are for a reason, understand the reason and do something at that moment in time and place. Empathy is not a synonym for weakness but it is an attribute of humanity. Let us not give into the craziness that is so rapidly engulfing us but be a light in the darkness….in two words; BE DIFFERENT!

Remember “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” ~ Elbert Hubbard. May the sunlight illuminate your paths and fair winds greet your sail because you are never alone.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות!

Adios!