Between two cities…..


In the course of my remarkable journey through life, I have been blessed beyond measure by the number of lives that I get to encounter. And when I use the word ‘encounter’, I mean it literally – at train stations where there are no escalators or elevators. The chap giving up his seat on the morning train while people are still trying to complete their quota of sleep in an insane bid to multi-task. The fruit grocer who tells me to have an extra pound of grapes even though I just have enough for only one pound. The Procuring officer who, without a hint of irritation in her voice, logs in an extra thirty minutes (off the books) just so I get there on time to finalise my business dealings with them. The charming lady with kids who insists on helping me with my shopping despite my clamour for chivalry. I could list complete strangers who just by their actions with no regards to any form of obligation or brevity of time have become contacts on my phone book. Most of whom, I am fully aware, will continue dealing with their own issues as soon as they get off at their predestined stop.

Those are the family of strangers that I belong to and within the time frame of our interactions, I know that they have inexplicably earned a paragraph, a page, a chapter in my life’s tale. Today, I look at my phone book and due to the insistent demand for independence by my neurological system, I have figured out new ways of getting hitherto simple tasks completed with the least amount of added stress to an already over burdened system. To every name, there is a face to match because just like I was explaining to my daughter yesterday about how the brain is a muscle, I had hitherto engaged in mental exercises that ensured that my memory was catalogued. I do not forget faces or names but with the unrelenting clamour  for autonomy by my nerves under the strong influence of dystonia, I have learned how much of an anguish it is when I try to engage in placing a face when I hear a name or matching a name to a face as we converse…….and so I just reinvent a new method of mental indexing to lighten the associated burden of doing things the old way.

Needless to say, I still remember, and when faces and memories ricochet in my head like a hastily fired off shot from the muzzle of a Springfield XD 3″ sub-compact semi auto pistol in a tiny confined space, I have learned the futility of trying to catch the bullet or limit its bouncing around. There’s no good result regardless of how much effort I make and so I just reinvent new methods. Still there are lives that so significantly interspersed with mine that I cannot help but just put them in a category much more easier to rifle through. Now I chuckle when I remember “there are many ways to kill a rat” because now, it’s so amazingly simple to just open the door and let the rat go find someone else with the energy to alternate between the many ways of ridding the world of just that one rodent.

Within the space of four weeks, I learned of the demise of two men (way past the prime of their youth) who touched my lives in so much different ways as their locations. Two continents apart, one life being the only common factor, mine. One preferred to get from me as much as he could even though he rationalised it by saying ‘it’s because of your condition I am even negotiating with you’ – when in reality, there was no respite applied. The other, was as open-hearted as I have ever seen anyone been and even when he struggled to remember the subject of our last conversation, he would still embrace me and plant a kiss on my cheek while propping himself up with his walker. He gave more of himself than I ever gave to him because when the twilight comes creeping in, we more often remember the givers than the takers.

In response to my enquiries, one passed away alone with no relatives or friends with him until he was discovered by one of his tenants. The other had nothing but a long list of lives he had touched with his humility, compassion and smile; who stayed with him till he transitioned with a hymn on his lips and a smile on his face. Am I in anyway trying to make light of the fact that to every season, there is a beginning and an end? Definitely not, but I still cannot picture how sad it is to exit the stage alone and unobserved by the rows of spectators who watch our lives because in all fairness, we are all called upon to play our roles on this stage of life. And so, I know that regardless of how poorly a role you might have played, the least you deserve is a slight smattering of applause just for showing up. However, my question is why would I settle for the polite applause when I can get a standing ovation, not in response to fame or my gaudy attire but in response to the collection of individual lives that were so impacted by our meeting.

When the final stage curtains are dropped and your role is done, what would be the response? Mere courtesy or deep hearted appreciation, I choose the latter every day and so my intent is not to run around like I’m in a game of tag (well I don’t run anymore) but to ensure that whether the duration of encounter is measured in minutes or by decades, I gave of myself both in cash (when it’s there) and in kind. It is so easy to gravitate towards the company of those who give than the company of takers but remember that you are the star character in your own role, and whilst you may delight yourself in being ‘smart’; there is something within you that is meant to be shared with others. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without wall” – Proverbs 25:28 Of what use is a city without walls, how do you provide safety for those entrusted to you?

We are all cities; size, population etc might vary but a city is what you are, and so in this arena called life, what makes you stand-out? Handouts from your fully stocked cellars and granaries might suffice for a bit but when the curtain falls and your granaries and cellars are pillaged and looted by strangers, the insignificance of your handouts would suddenly become glaring and shameful. We are cities stocked for the long run, and giving is a sacrifice but sacrifices are not a hobby in any location I have been to during my sojourn. Though my walls may be in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, and my watch towers have slowly lost their glimmer, there is still something to share with that stranger who seeks solace in the shadows of my walls. Though the buffet table be removed and the fountains but trickle slowly, there is still enough to parch both our thirsts. Though my blankets have all but lost their fleece, and the chandeliers are but a spot on the ceiling, I know that the warmth of our conversation; true and sincere, will create memories never to be forgotten when the time to part ways draws near.

Remember that time never stands still, but even with its passage when the arms of sleep so tightly embrace, memories will always be created.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות


If Wisdom dwells….


Pearls and Wisdom

What is that factor that drives you, confining every other feeling to the shadows? What is it that motivates you to persevere especially when it seems life has yet again chucked a basket of lemons at you? What is it that seems to soothe the painful process of journeying through life especially if you are handicapped in some way? What is it that silences the ticking of the clock as time inevitably passes by? What is it that makes you want to rise up each day, uncertain of what the day holds for you, and yet without a pause, you plunge headlong into another new day? For every person, there is that unique purpose that relentlessly drives you on despite what emotional turbulence awaits you. And there are those who are still unwittingly searching for that thing that like the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle, when slotted in, the beauty of the entire picture is suddenly clear.

A couple of hours ago, my daughter asked when would I really take a break from working because with her pure soul, she is still concerned about how I feel on a regular basis. And it is in moments like that I am eternally grateful that I do not have the final say with regards to the affairs of my life. When the regrets of past mistakes tend to shroud you like a wet cloak, if we can but shrug off the cloak and swat away the lingering cobwebs, it is only then that we can truly see the triumphs and victories that the regrets of the past so desperately want to block out. It is in times like these that I appreciate the sincerity of true friendship because “Good friends are like angels. You don’t have to see them to know they are there for you” – Moywaywa. I am truly grateful for those that I can call friends because though they be few in number, their concerted efforts have collectively propped me up when I thought my  gas tank was completely dry.

It is truly absurd that today’s world with its frenetic pace has so intruded into our personal lives that it seems that we are compelled to do things based not on individual choices. Where fame is measured by the number of views on social media, and parents are more interested in what is currently trending than in the imparting of core values to their kids. It is in times like this that I know that being different is not always necessarily a good thing but the courage to be different speaks volumes about your identity. If we could but capture life in a still shot and intensely study that one shot, then the thousand words would mean so much more than the seeemingly inevitable hustle and bustle of existing, which in retrospect is just like equating progress in a a journey while sitting in a rocking chair.

As I journey through life, one day at a time, there are always ‘those’ encounters that I know will never be forgotten simply by the impact it made in my life. I recently swapped experiences with a high school buddy whose journey into medicine has evolved into an awareness that life is not measured by material indices, knowledge or trend setting. Amazingly, his passion is conflicting with the traditional practice of being a general practitioner of medicine because he knows that what hurts the most is usually not going to be fixed by a band aid and a signed prescription sheet. What hurts the most is that there is much noise all around and so little being heard, and he has set out forging his own path at tackling the needs of those around him including lil ole’ me. Wisdom can be sought and gotten, the capacity of applying it appropriately however is a completely different issue but first there has to be the desire to seek wisdom. And from him, I am further motivated that with the end of life not in sight, hope silently awaits.

Are you a wanna-be trend setter or you have gotten fed up with the way things currently look? If the answer to the latter is in the affirmative then you can do something about it but it has to be your way. Little acts of kindness and sacrifice go ways longer than you imagined, and even if the appreciation is not forthcoming, persist in well doing because there will be that one person whose life you have unknowingly given a burst of hope. I have been on both ends of the spectrum and when the walls seem to be caving in on me, I remind myself to breathe because as long as there is breath in this body then I can delight myself in being a source of hope to another person. The future is not as bleak as it looks, and even when all else seems to be resonating at the same frequency of abject helplessness, remember you are a vessel of change. But you have to act if you intend to change the situation. The change you bring about when you act is not measured by magnitude, but by the intent to do right.

Show me a man who seeks wisdom in order to apply it and you have unerringly shown me a hero. Wisdom is not measured by years or some other human index, it is measured by the life you live and the impact you bring to bear on those around you……..if only you listen. Like the toddler playing on the beach with his little wagon, shovel and bucket, give him some time and room and you will be astounded by what he is able to build with sand just by using his imagination. I am not in a race for accolades or fame however I acknowledge that I am in a race to fulfill the purpose of my existence. And if I give in to the doldrums around me and allow myself to be distracted by the confabulation of wagon riders, then I would have lived my life in utter misery.

Remember that indifference is akin to sitting astride a fence under the delusion of being comfortable. If a need can be identified either through ominous silence or a flurry of words, I whole heartedly assure you that you and I can do something about that need. “I, Wisdom, live together with good judgement. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.” – Proverbs 8:12 (NLT)

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