Amidst the wreckage….

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T Boned

A couple of weeks ago, my truck (Eduardo) got T boned! A beautiful Tuesday morning it sure was shaping up to be because that is always my default choice every morning and then suddenly things went south – as I stood amidst the wreckage, thankful there were no injuries and listening to the T boner apologize, I realized that my perspective has changed. Some people wake up, pick up their car keys, get into their vehicles and go looking for an accident to cause – Scott profusely reiterated the almost pervasive fact that nobody gets on the freeway hoping to cause an accident. I mean I accepted his apologies but I kind of know a little more having lived more than he has that that is not entirely the case in today’s world – the creepy ones are coming out of the woodwork rather faster than people imagine. So, between juggling filing a claim, talking with the responding cop and trying to listen to the tow-truck driver advertise his business, my hands or more precisely my ears were literally full. Having worked law enforcement, the over-riding objective is not trying to understand the context of the law or see a different shade, the emphasis is on enforcing it so to cap it off, there was a citation of $235 as the cherry on the shake.

Now I really cannot do very well in regular vehicles, no thanks to dystonia and so even with the sturdiness of riding in a truck, it simply is also not impervious to damage. Two weeks after the incident, the auto adjuster politely called to ‘walk’ me through the process – a vehicle can only be totaled when the cost of repairs exceed 80% of the current value of the automobile. And so even though it was clearly pointed out to me at the dealership that Eduardo was totaled because the impact was so hard that he deployed all of his airbags, it took my polite auto-adjuster an extra week before he called to tell me that Eduardo was a total loss. Oh and that is where the erratic nature of insurance companies come with talons flashing, after ‘valuation’, I was left with about $10k between the current value of something similar to Eduardo and wherever the valuation company got their comps for. Talk about the frustration of trying to prevent more milk from spilling since you can do little or nothing about what has already been spilled. I took a crash course in dealing with automobile crashes so as not to lose the only leverage I had which was the remains of Eduardo. Thankfully, there are still good people even though sometimes it seems like I am literally in a scene of The Walking Dead and so after turning in the rental provided by the insurance company, I got a car to use whilst trying to absorb the reality of getting another set of wheels.

Now it is no news that I suffer from insomnia and so whenever the frequently asked question pops up, ‘why are you not sleeping?’, my response is biblical – “there is no rest for the wicked!” and so insomnia for me is kind of like an added responsibility because someone has to watch over the wicked. “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” and “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet. And its waters toss up refuse and mud.” Now I know God does not need me volunteering but it is my own way of seeing a pro for insomnia. Life undeterred continues, bringing in its wake, a more than fair share of turbulent seasons because just when it seems like my plate is too full to take anymore, I get blindsided by something that I think I am completely unprepared for however the beauty of life is in the fact that I alone get the singularly distinct option of choosing so I choose not to allow the demise of Eduardo become a stressor. I’m no newbie and statistically speaking, it takes an average of 4 years to earn a degree, I am in my 9th year with dystonia and myoclonus so that puts me more of a graduate consultant in the school of hard knocks.

Act Now!

With all this going on, I had the privilege of having my younger brother visit me, he chose to visit me (it has been about 5years since I last saw him) and so there was some cheer after all and having never seen me having a dystonic episode, I know we did have a wonderful time together. I actually for the first time since dystonia invaded my world, felt like I truly belonged to a family (one that I was born into without any cognizance to my view or option). He actually celebrated his birthday in my home and I may not authoritatively categorize sleeping on an air mattress and being woken up on his birthday with a chocolate garnish cake and the happy birthday song as being out of this world but then that’s where I have learned that we just need to do what we must do and let God handle the rest. I overheard him telling his incessant callers that that was probably the best birthday celebration he had ever had. A simple gesture from me meant a ton of joy to him! Now this is where I want to do a deep dive into some fundamental principles on which I try to live my life by.

“One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor.” Those are not my words in any way, that right there is truth without any fanfare – no glazing, no sprinklings, no whipped cream. What truly strikes me about this is that there is absolutely no mention of status, meaning that there is no further elaboration of who had more to give – it just speaks about 2 men and the choices they make and then the resultant consequence of their choices. Now another startling and somewhat scary truth is in the choice of the latter – he withheld what is right! At certain times, I come up with phrases that keep me going and this right here is one, “As long as God allows you see a need then it means that you are thoroughly equipped to do something about that need– Redz_CC. I try my hardest to make each day count for something and that means down to the moments of every day I live and so even though I have a couple of academic (&theological?) degrees to my name, it means squat when it comes to life and the privilege of encountering lives as we journey along. Sometimes I realize that simplicity can become overwhelmingly complex when we refuse to just accept the simple. We are all creatures of purpose – we identify, execute and then move on to the next task.

Whenever I see a need, I am with something that fits that need and if I choose to withhold it for a myriad of reasons (it could make a worthy post on its own), I am undercutting myself because borrowing a few words from Dido, ‘Nothing I have is truly mine!’ and so the question of to give or not to give should not arise because it spells it clear as day, poverty will overwhelm when I refuse to address a need because I am withholding what is right. Again, I want to be careful when I say withhold – money answers all things but money cannot get you joy, it can buy you praise singers but absolutely no friends, It can build you a mansion but it cannot give you the companionship that we all need as human beings – just one of the many billions inhabiting the earth. And so I ask myself what is the wiser option? Giving up what isn’t mine to gain what is mine or withholding what isn’t mine only to lose on all fronts, an academic degree is not needed to answer that. Whilst conversing with my brother, I told him that perception can be easy to make from afar but usually it is wrong, he got a ringside seat for that exhibition. An African proverb says, ‘that which you seek in distant lands is actually resting within the confines of your garment’ it just boils down to ignorance versus knowledge.

I dare you to remember this, “We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives…Some lessons are painful, some are painless…but all are priceless” – Knot Known

עד שניפגש שוב, מי ייתן וcountenace יזרח לטובה עליך!

Adios!

CEO, Inspiration Inc…..

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To start with a rueful comment about how frustrating writing can get is right about apt because how else could I tag the emotions I felt 7 hours ago? Finished up a piece and was putting on the bells and whistles, suddenly Shazam!it’s gone and when the device in use is my back-up, suddenly the realization of how much I miss my laptop is suddenly brought to the fore…..Oh well, since I do not want to ‘join’ the vanished piece then I guess the best course of action is to shut down, call a time-out and welcome the new day. That I would categorize as being one of the unsavory duties of a CEO, there is no other table for the buck to go to. This event along with the ones happening in recent times make me question how busier can living be? How can I live without writing? It started off being an avenue to channel all the hurt, bitterness and resentment in a positive way but now it is becoming a vital part of who I am daily.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those men who dream in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the morning to find it was but vanity but those men who dream by day – these are dangerous men, for they dream with open eyes to make their dreams comes true.” – T.E Lawrence. Right off the top of that, I think I class myself as being ‘dangerous’ and were it not for the constraints of dystonia, I probably would have pursued a career in which danger played a huge role. Why? Danger lurks around every corner so why not best it as quickly and as often as you can however it is essential that you know yourself – stick to the shallow side of the pool if that’s the extent to which you can push yourself.

I have since learned not to view myself as strange whenever I tell people that I do not dream (and this is whenever I am able to wrestle insomnia to submission) but dreaming due to the heavy influence of lofty aspirations and objectives, that therein is a totally different subject matter. This is what I do when life chucks lemonades at me, I pick myself up, ignore the bruises and welts and find the nearest food processor and make some lemonades (summer is fast approaching anyway). Although turning and tossing, watching the hours slip by elusively is no fun but rather than give in to grumpiness and full-blown irritation, I dream and then act because I know time is no servant of any creation. Developing that uncanny ability of identifying the pros and cons is not very difficult but transforming the cons to pros is where the heavy lifting is done. Can all men dream? Most definitely! Can all embark on making those dreams come true? That is a question best posed and answered by individuals whose lives are greatly determined by their personal choices.

Some weeks ago, I posted something on social media and one of the many comments (in interpretation and in literal candor) was ‘you are an inspiration!’. Well dystonia or not, compliments are a pretty good boost to one’s psyche however over the years, I have somewhat become adept at separating the default comments from the sincere, unreserved comments. Now I do get to hear that comment frequently but for some reason, this particular day’s comment got the huge wheels in my head churning (which is something I try very hard to avoid because of the adverse consequences, it is so wearying getting them to stop) and I alluded to the fact that inspiration is a lifetime career with a lot of pomp and allure but ironically no financial remuneration. Oh, that sounds really grim especially when today’s world operates on the measure of tangible wealth that translates to an individual’s net worth. I do opine however (and most assuredly this is not borne from a place of lack) that if we were to tag everything in our lives with a physical cost, that would be utter shameful because then it would be most uncomfortable explaining why many lives are constantly in the red.

I remember that during those ‘ship-up or ship-out’ regular exercises as a growing child, one of the oft repeated phrased associated with those exercises was, ‘this exercise will help stop you from behaving like a gutter bred child!’ It took me a couple of years to completely decipher the meaning especially since it was associated with those frequent exercises and despite the fact that I truly was a ferocious reader and hungry for idioms and definitions but even those were not strong enough motives to ask a visibly upset parent to explain what that phrase meant. In the acquisition of knowledge, seeking the truth and/or definition yourself usually is the best way to go because when you do get the meaning, you somewhat get a personal patent that ensures nobody can take it away from you. And so attempting to tag a price to everything we do is akin to behaving like a gutter bred child, however the gutter has never been ranked on the list of suitable accommodation for humans. So get the heck out if you think you are in one or have been told most of your life that the gutter is where you deserve to be.

Every new day, I am thankful for the countless opportunities to be inspired by the lives and events that occur around me but most especially I am inspired by the false facade that many put up because when you just genuinely show some humanity, then you are confronted by the turmoils that many face and are trying to hide from by concealing them beneath this thin veneer. Just as the trickle on the surface of an aging dam is a sure sign of the torrent that will follow closely, so is the certainty that someday that facade will crumble underneath the pressure of trying to avoid charting your own path. It takes little or nothing to travel on a well worn path but remember that just as our DNA varies so do our purposes and so investing energy into determining your own purpose amidst the jungle of society and swinging at it with a machete will ensure that you forge your own path and help another begin theirs. We are all interwoven at some stage in life and we may begin together but remember that ‘in life, we meet to part and part to meet’

Life is an exercise in attaining balance; giving vs receiving, listening vs talking, empathy vs cynicism, kindness vs cruelty…the list goes on and at every milestone we attain in life, we must choose what side we want to be on. Seeking ensures finding, asking ensures knowing and knocking ensures access to doors we hitherto presumed were non-existent. It is no easy feat living your life but jumping on the band wagon is not an option because you really have no say as to the direction of the wagon. Being an inspiration means that more often than we think, we give a fellow traveler some company for some distance but then she/he must veer off when the time comes. Sprawled on the canvas of a boxing ring after a flurry of jabs, hooks and flush upper cuts does not give me the license to remain there and be counted out and so despite the urge to remain there, I must get to my feet and give it all I have got and some. And even when it is just the rings that are keeping me upright, there is a person or two out there who can truly draw strength from your fight, so keep at it until the bell rings.

With every new day, I strive to push myself just a tad more than I did yesterday and even when my body is playing out a symphony of agony and pain, that is not enough reason for me to stop, I just have to rest a while and then forge on. And when the inevitable opportunity of meeting a fellow traveler down on his back shows up, I will yet lend him an arm and pull him up. With arms interlocked, feet struggling to keep going, I can still whistle up a jaunty tune to make those moments worthwhile. We are a sum total of many parts and lives, and so to everyone who has played some role in my story, I say, “thank you for being an inspiration!” Because although today seems like it could be my last, I know with certainty that my destination is a place where the constraints of this feeble body will be no more. And so I apply myself as much as I can, without the lurking shadow of doubt to scare me, knowing fully well that ’tis but one chance I have got and so regardless of the cards in my hand, I will do the best I can with them.

Remember that “the real measure of one’s wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all our money” – Zig Ziglar. Now that is a tough pill to swallow but as long as we remain adrift on the sea of life, we must acknowledge that time and chance happens to all.

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

Adios!

Lasso’ing Sleep…..

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Lassoing Sleep

There will be always those days when it seems like this journey will overwhelm and crush me and in those times, knowing that there are people who are going through similar trials is always a much needed boost. In the last 8 weeks, I have been divinely privileged to have become a member of so many support groups, and just the realization that you can be yourself amongst others without the looks of derision, pity or disgust is quite profound. Acknowledging that for every thinly concealed nonchalance, there is a friend who knows what you are going through. And when you see a request for prayers from a new friend, it is not a gesture for fame or recognition, but a sincere request from someone who is going through torrid times.   With the medical capes of Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Dystonia, MS, Parkinson’s Disease and similar villains associated with the neurological system casting shadows, you can truly appreciate the warmth associated with being in a group of defiant individuals.

One of the support groups I belong to is aptly named ‘PD Night Owls’ because there is one common denominator with all these vicious medical conditions and that is the inability of the body to get its much needed rest. In addition to the ravages being wrecked on my body as a whole and the adverse influence it can have on my social life and activities, I still have to confront those little horrors that come with such conditions. Just like the mythical Peter Pan, I will claim my own shadow someday, (because the shadows of these villains just seek to further highlight mine) even if it requires patience, endurance and skilled needle work. As a child, one of my fond memories is darting around with friends trying to escape been tagged or trying to tag someone else depending on what your role in the game was. With the passage of time however, all the fun associated with that game is stored away as cherished memories even as I attempt to dole out some much needed discipline to a little rascal termed ‘Insomnia‘. The futility of playing that game in present times is more than just age-inappropriate, rather it is one where the odds are so unfairly stacked against me that it would be foolhardy to even contemplate it.

Even with a plate already over laden with all these nasty medical challenges,  insomnia finds a way of converting itself into a sauce that trickles through, further tainting the package with extra foul taste. Ideally, life is a series of decisions and choices and so instead of partaking in an unfair game, I choose to witness the birth of every new day. Again perspective plays a significant role, because perspective is a result of a choice being expressed and so I do not detest the approaching darkness of twilight signifying the end of a day or envy the stillness of the dawning that marks the beginning of a new day. Instead I count myself blessed that I am able to witness the birth of every new day, that is a choice I make, instead of devoting energy towards battling a foe that acts as the reconnaissance agent of a massive horde. I have learned that it is better to study your foe(s) for any signs or weakness and when you do find one, not to let a moment pass by without any action from me. Alternatively, I re-access my armoury, evaluate my relationships/allies and utilize what I have even if it requires a little bit of tweaking.

Most battles are won through the application of wisdom rather than just sheer brawn, and so instead of engaging with insomnia every day, I have learned ways to circumvent participating in a seriously skewed game. It is no longer rocket science that the body as a dynamic system requires a minimum of 8 hours of sleep to enable it reset and be ready for the next day. In recognition of that, what do you do to a body that is thoroughly exhausted and in need of sleep? When the habits inculcated in earlier years of running around in a Ferris wheel, have now turned around to nip you in the derrière. I try to lighten the situation by explaining that the brain is such an amazing creation, and so like a commander in charge on the battle field (safe and secure in the skull); it is still strategising, processing, sending out signals and assigning tasks to a neurological system that is almost buckling beneath the onslaught of neurological disorders. And in a bid to prevent a total collapse of this structure I call my body, I must find a way of reining in this magnificent commander lest in its efficiency, it pushes the body way past its limit.

A warrior in the heat of battle is confronted with two choices; live or die, and inadvertently the choice for life must be backed by commensurate actions or else death would gladly swoop in, ever ready like the vulture circling above patiently waiting for road kill. There is always the option of taking a short cut but again the ignorant will find that short cuts are never the fastest or the safest, and so we realize that depending solely on medication usually has a predictable route. With every dose, the body responds by building a resistance to that dose with time, and so we increase the dosage or switch medication. However, just like the fool belatedly realizes the folly of his ways, more often we belatedly realize the folly of borrowing an hour or two from Sleep time in order to accommodate that last meeting, finish up that work task that could not be left in the office or just tidy up that little assignment that is tied to a deadline that is usually unfeasible. There is no reward that can be obtained from cutting off your nose to enhance the beauty of your face, because if we do not adequately cater to the needs of our bodies, someday just like the Merchant of Venice, that pound of flesh must be required as payback. Contentment is not weakness, it will always be at conflict with the inordinate ambitions that characterize today’s world but it is an inseparable companion in the pursuit of noble aspirations.

Just like the daily battle with insomnia, there is the constant need to keep that tricky balance between living healthy and taking proper care of the body. For me, that balance is key because any slight external influence will not only destroy the balance but the chronic pain associated with daily living would assume proportions frightening to even conceive. You do not have to be sick to appreciate health, and so the same scenario plays out in lives everywhere: feign wisdom and take from tomorrow to assuage today’s needs. Most of us are undeniably guilty of that crime and inevitably the pretentious wisdom we applied will someday be revealed in all its entirety as sheer folly.  For every ill-advised action we take today, there will be the corresponding consequences tomorrow and it is not foolishness to be different. Sometimes we are placed in situations that did not require any input from us but to triumph in those circumstances, we need not embark on actions that are immediately associated with thought process of a child. There has to be an acknowledgement of what is real to enable us choose what we know the finality to be.

There is still time each day for that last valiant charge, a charge that has its distinct base in an unflinching faith in a Sovereign God and Commander. A charge that is not dictated by the size of this ragtag army but rather dictated by the promise of a sure victory ahead. And so, I will emerge from the trench – besmirched with dried mud, eyes red-rimmed, joints aching and clad in what barely amounts to a decent garment. With all the air in my tired lungs, my bugle will ring out across the mountains for just one final time today, notes marking the last valiant charge. Conveying in very clear notes to the foes arrayed all around that there will be no conceding victory today, there will be no terms of surrender and even if I have to be borne on my shield; I will seize that victory that is sure. There will be no ambiguity in my proclamation, ‘dystonia, there is no victory for you today and though you rave and rant as much as you want, there is no victory today, tomorrow or for as long as the battle rages.’

A charge more valiant than yesterday’s, my colors loftily raised in victory, a determination in the cadence of marching feet, there will be a prisoner of war but rest assured that it will not be from my ranks.

For just as your ranks ripple with number, and your fancy capes adorn you, so will they disperse in defeat, heads bowed in defeat, victory snatched.

To friends and allies alike, there is yet hope renewed and though the war be far from over, our anthem booms loud and clear, there is no giving up – not today, not tomorrow for as surely as the sun rises from the East, none will fall by the way because we depend not on the strength of men.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

Be Strengthened…..

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He leads meIMG_0381

A friend recently commented on how emotional she feels when she reads my posts and uncharacteristically requested that I write a happy post. Happiness and Sadness, Joy and sorrow, Riches or poverty, life and death….these are like the two sides of a coin. It is what makes the balance in life, knowing that no matter how thin a slice of bread is, there will always be two sides. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” is a declaration based on divine revelation. Many would, if presented with the choice, probably opt not to go through that valley but you cannot be whimsical about the order of things. Like ill-mannered kids, picking only the good stuff from the bag when it gets to our turn to pick, you just cannot eat your cake and have it.

Now this is no dirge or eulogy, this is simply the musings of one who has, not by personal choice, being given the opportunity to reach out and touch lives. Sometimes my feelings want to conflict with purpose but not anymore, as long as this heart beats and there is breath in my lungs. I have not yet had the wondrous experience of walking the streets of gold in God’s celestial city but what I have is the opportunity of witnessing how trials bring out the best in us…..when we do not collapse and keel over in defeat. This is not a journal of every pain and sentiment I feel since I got diagnosed with dystonia in 2012, it is almost impossible to do that – how do you describe accurately the feeling of helplessness as you watch everything that you thought was you being stripped away? How do you chronicle the sheer frustration of trying to rebuild a life from the rubbles or pen down the emotions that well up in you as you are faced with medical bills without knowing how those bills will get paid? How do you narrate the disappointments that come from being told you cannot do this by your own body or illustrate in clear terms that the way and the will are two different opponents that must be conquered concurrently? The proverbial town crier might regale in the sonority of his voice in the stillness of the African dawn but when the market is at its busiest, nobody needs to tell him what an exercise in futility it would be to cry out a message.

Money answers everything but what good will all the wealth of the earth amount to when you are confronted with situations that transcend the realm of physical riches. This morning, I answered a knock at my front door and there stood a delivery lady (slightly dampened by the early morning shower) with a huge envelope. Tucked inside the envelope was one of the prettiest handmade card (the largest I have ever received or thought of making) with the words “Be Strengthened” boldly inscribed upon it. Beautifully crafted between the covers of the cards were signed handwritten notes from several of my College/University mates, twenty names in total, if precision means a thing to you as it does to me. Just a few minutes before that I had hung up the phone, thoroughly exasperated with a call agent because she explained that my phone line would only be restored if a specific amount (to the cent) was paid. Opening that card and reading every note contained in that card was quite emotional because these notes were from my mates, now scattered all around the globe-most of whom I haven’t seen in the last 17years. Hold on just a second, if you may please, almost simultaneously I got an email informing me that my PayPal account had just received some funds from these guys who I know have their personal issues to attend to.

I have always loved surprising people, I would rather surprise than be surprised because the logical and analytical part of me usually categorises surprises as something akin to reading a 300 paged book; but commencing at page 85 and ending at page 200, or a shirt half tucked in (in itself, a very glaring and incomplete design, entirely unsatisfactory and requiring me having to work my way; back to page 1 and forward to page 300). Oh yes, I do have mild OCD, so that really can be aggravating at times and so I tend to tell people right off the bat that I do not like surprises! Juxtaposing mild OCD and dystonia is a chemical equation of horrifying  proportions, it almost always have a disastrous result. However I have learned to change what I can and force myself to walk away from what I cannot change (the walking away part is really difficult but in order to prevent triggering an episode, I must walk away). When you find yourself in certain situations, you must quickly adapt or face the option of getting steamrolled, that is what I have learned on this journey with dystonia. There is so much I have had to learn in order to adapt – I have learned that faith is not just a word, it is a lifestyle. Love is not a word, it is an action. Sacrifice is not just an action, it is a painful decision expressed through actions that are quite unsavoury. And that giving, especially when you have to deprive yourself of something, has a longer lasting benefit than the extremely short high of receiving.

I have learned that worrying only extends inconvenience, all activity and no progress and so being told that I am a source of inspiration by men and women from different origins, categories and location is something that is extremely humbling. All I aim to do with each new day is to make someone else’s life and struggles just a little bit lighter even as I struggle with dystonia. Proclaiming that even though I cannot control the storm, I can smile even in the darkness because the strength to go through each day is not mine to dispense, it comes from an inexhaustible Source. All I try to do each day is choose to stick with the design that He has laid out for me, I choose to acknowledge that even when it seems like the ominous winds of life is about to snuff out my candle light, He is still there with me. I choose to acknowledge that even though I am about running out of resources, He has promised to supply my every need and so I have learned not to bother myself with how or when because He always shows up on time.

I am particularly grateful for the immense privileges of sharing paths with men and women of such incredible potential, purpose and focus. Grateful for the recent opportunity to be in such awesome support groups, because with every life I have been blessed to encounter, I have come away with truths that truly liberate – truths that are so deeply engrained in the entirety of my being that even when I am knocked down, I know that there is but one option available – ‘Pick yourself up and press on!’  For the bonds of friendships that have stayed true and the accepting hearts that still receive me till this day. The true description of fulfilment surpasses Rupees, Dirhams, Pound Sterlings, Dollars; it lies in the ability to allow yourself become a vessel through which someone is blessed because when the time comes for the curtain to drop, no stack of gold will prevent it from dropping. For those, who like me are struggling through their own storms, I encourage you to share these words with me, ‘Be Strengthened!’ No life yet created was ever created to be confined to the dumpsters of failures, despondency and hopelessness; your life is no different.

And so, as I reel with gratitude from the sacrifices of these few and others who have refused to just be bystanders, I just want to say that every penned or spoken word comes from deep within my heart. Knowing that we are all on a journey, and as you press on and still choose to give freely even if you are yet to get the spelling of dystonia or insomnia or myoclonus or Parkinson’s right, realise that “there is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” – Proverbs 11:24. Within our hearts, desires lie; noble and pleasing but if we refuse to apply our hands, then we amount to nought but mischief makers, truncating the cycle of life. A soothing word, a little prayer, a look of genuine concern, a little token of compassion; these are what should define us as humans. And when a need is seen, do not first concern yourself with the genealogy but rather do something about it, because if you can see the need then you can do something about it even if reality kicks you in the teeth about your lack. Our lives are more than just a string of academic and professional titles, they are more than the string of mansions and stockpiled gems, they are easels that God uses in writing out a message of love, hope and perseverance to those around you.

Do not bask in the euphoria of your acclaimed fame and status because that in itself is no purpose, do not delight in the flurry of high-falutin verbage because that in itself is no purpose, do not pride yourself in your finely honed skill of bashing people with your beliefs because religion is just a word and not a purpose. Instead I choose to awaken myself each new day with a thankful heart for life and another opportunity to make the day count. Remember ‘Be strengthened’ might just be two words but the value of those two words are beyond the grasp of a life that is devoid of purpose.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

Whispering in the shadows….

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A whisper in the dark....

A whisper in the dark….

Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light”John Ruskin

I usually try to surmise my life experience of living with Myoclonus with this witty remark of walking through the valley of the shadow of death with just a flickering candle in hand to combat the swirling darkness trying so desperately to overwhelm me. To many, it defies comprehension especially when you juxtapose it with the developed economies where there is stability of power save for the disastrous after effects of a hurricane, blizzard or tornado just like the one witnessed a couple of days back. (One of the survivor’s son who was interviewed thanked God for making his mum quite nosy because a tree crashed down through her trailer in the exact spot where she had been seated some seconds ago……she stood up to go to the window after she saw a sheet of metal hurtling past her window!) However the light from my flickering candle drives me on through these challenging times.
It never ceases to fascinate me how weird the truth usually sounds – much wisdom is learned in the house of sorrows and the best time to number your friends is in the times of adversity. But regardless of how weird and creepy it comes across, there is always the exhilarating freshness of liberation in its wake. Nobody can understand the pain of your situation but people will always be drawn to your ability to smile despite your pain. I was having a conversation with a friend who had chosen to remain on her side of the road after my crossing even though she had largely prepared me for the crossing and it was amusing to hear her describe me as being ‘normal’ these days or for wont of a more appropriate comment ‘dealing with my demons’. Funny really because demons will always exist, why were they created if not to serve their purpose and so whether we choose to admit it from the perspective of a refusal to cross the road with someone or not, we all have to deal with the shadows because the shadows only exist with light.
It is much easier to appreciate the light when you have been in the shadows and whilst some might construe it literally, there are and will always be shadows that surround us and what an ignorant life to live when we deny the existence of these shadows. I have walked in the shadows of isolation, dearth of emotional support et al with the onset of this neurological disorder and it has further revealed and heightened the inadequacies we choose to comfort ourselves with when the shoe seems to be on the other person’s feet but I have learned that we can only give what we have. No natural disaster is going to imbue us with what we consistently choose not to have and so the differentiating factor is not being able to say that someone has finally dealt with their demons and so it is now safe to cross the road but being able to rightly discern the existence of the shadows and yet choose to be that whisper in the gloom urging another towards the light.
I may not have all the expertise in sharing my thoughts however I do what I can and choose to because I know that just by sharing my heart, I might be building a bridge over a chasm in someone’s world. Like the faint whisper of the spring breeze as it caresses all that lies in its path, so we can make a choice to be that positive influence in those fleeting seconds as we pass through the lives of others.
I was invited to a soccer game by my buddy and despite the fact that they lost the game by four points, I itched for the feel of running, kicking the ball, breaking out in sweat from the physical exertions of bodily exercise. I did none of that for obvious reasons but I did lend my stuttering voice to his team encouraging them to do more and guess what; it sucked that they lost but I was glad to have been a voice of encouragement. Now, many of us might have been content with just being a silent spectator but we can choose to do more than that. Make a difference in someone’s moment of dismay and discouragement, be a whisper in the shadows that surround someone else and be assured that in those few moments, you will put your own shadows at bay. Whilst your candlelight may be flickering, be daring enough to light that other candle that has just puttered out and in the space of those moments, bask in the warmth of the smile on that face in front of yours.
I will always be grateful for these challenging times because a whole new path has opened up before me, I have found love and support in seemingly hopeless times. I have been given a second chance to make a demand on life for what I know I deserve, I have shared in the pains and sufferings of many and have been privileged to do something beautiful amidst the ashes of smouldering dreams. I have learned that you can choose not to judge the actions of others because my circumstances have birthed a wider and clearer perspective and words mean nothing until they are translated into actions, no matter how little they are. I have chosen to enjoy the little moments that come my way not because I am unable to sleep but because I realize that it is a blessing being awake when most people are asleep. I choose to prayerfully assist others not because I expect miracles when I am prayed for but I understand better that the best times to give are when every fiber in your being is screaming to withhold even if it is just to alleviate some periods of pain and anguish to yourself.
As I awaken each day, I am thankful because I have a voice and be it a whisper or a full-throat roar of encouragement, I choose every day to set the shadows just a little bit away for myself by being a voice in someone’s shadows. I remind myself every passing day that it a duty to myself to ascertain and apply myself to my purpose for these times and regardless of how much I receive in return, my work is done and will still be.
Remember that life’s sorrows are but a birthing process that truly separates the bold and different from the rest of the pack. No two chances are ever the same so make a choice to make the best of today’s situation.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!

Sowing seeds…..

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Blessed to bless

Blessed to bless

Awakening from my restless brainiac world where the best two hours are like being thrust into a Ferris wheel, everything going around in such a blur that you barely have enough time to comport yourself least off all scream in sheer terror…..but that’s what insomnia feels like. Being exhausted and yet wary of shutting your eyes without ingesting that tiny white pill that gives you a blank world where nothing is, just a feeling of nothingness……my eyes snap open and I realise it’s barely an hour or two ago and yet I’m mentally fatigued. Each subconscious thought methodically pulled apart and a maelstrom of thoughts are all ricochetting in my weary brain. Where’s the rest in sleep, I ask? But wait a minute, if I spend all my time chasing the elusive rest, what happens to my purpose on earth?

I did a mite of shopping a couple of days back and am still recuperating whilst striving to admonish myself not to embark on such a seemingly harmless task however that’s what my body has become. An irreconcilable ongoing exercise between my outsides and insides and it seems to be a losing battle but guess what, the opera ain’t over till the champ says his lines and I’m not done with writing my lines. It’s amazing how much life seems clearer when you are down in the rut, grinding it out daily with myoclonus. It’s also amusing when I come across the experts who are clearly flummoxed and yet are unable to admit that simple truth to themselves. I can because I do battle each moment with a neurological disorder that takes pleasure in persistently striving to make you who you sure aren’t however it’s a game of wits. Persist all you may, the call is mine to make – it’s my life not yours.

I have got this lovely DAB/iPod digital radio and bedside clock and each time my eyes are drawn to those fluorescent green digits, I assure myself that there’s more than just bemoaning my present circumstances. I recollect with astonishing clarity the fun I had working with paper machè, gathering all the old and discarded dailies (for many, just some more clutter that needs to be trashed), letting it soak up in a tub of water till it’s all mushy and then mixing it with yucky paper glue. The smell to many, distasteful it might be but for me, it’s another opportunity to put together that messy unwanted mixture into something of a sculpture that when it’s all dried up would attract more than just glances but back in the days, my sculpture would occupy a place of pride and attract those who failed to see the beauty in some old used newspapers.

Now I admit my fingers may no longer be as nimble as they were back then neither do I have the ability to bend and retrieve those discarded dailies, least of all lug them home and get working but I acknowledge that there’s something of beauty in everything around us. The question is how many of us choose to remain on the level of being too busy chasing nothing, to pause and admire the beauty that lies all around us. Many of us may be content with side-stepping the ‘brokenness and discarded’ amongst us whilst we rush away snuggled in our warm overcoats but realise that the fulfilled life is not only one that takes into perspective what they see but willfully determines to make just that little difference in their world. I can luxuriate in the fact that I may not be able to make a paper mâché sculpture anymore but I can encourage those who still can, but do not realise they can, fashion a thing of beauty from their situations of bleakness as they are apt to be reminded almost daily.

What makes us individuals isn’t just the obvious fact that we are acclaimed to be top of the mammal/primate chain but I’ve seen animals go out of their way to assist an unrelated specie. I’ve been privy to witness love in deeds by those far lesser than us on the evolution ladder. A sparrow with a broken wing being nursed by a raccoon, I’ve witnessed abandoned pups being taken under the motherly care of a lioness and so if we truly are top of the chain, what acts of love define our everyday actions. ‘Saying a prayer’ via comment on social media for an ailing neighbor, friend or family when it cost you nothing to drive out there or send out a card or even place a call. Waiting for the call from that chap who obviously needs a better pair of shoes to warm his feet during the winter, mind you, he can barely afford to place that call. Waiting for your neighbour who’s past her prime to call out to you to please check on her and bring some joy to her life even if it is to help with her groceries. “Love sought and given is good but given unsought is better” – William Shakespeare. The list of little acts of kindness is endless, the question is what if that call never comes, are you absolved on the grounds of ignorance?

My hands hurt and I have to give this body some rest for there is yet a journey to continue on and so I cherish the little seeds of kindness i choose to place on my path because it sure is gonna look rosier to the next person that journeys behind me. That’s the choice I make every conscious moment with each day I yet draw breath, to let things go that truly don’t matter that I might devote myself as much as my body can take, to the things that truly matter.

Remember that giving is truly receiving, what’s that you’ve got in your hands – God wants to use it if you are willing to lose it.

פרידה עד שנפגש שוב בתזמון שלו עצמו

Adios!

The Way of the Orchid……

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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!