In the Eclipse……

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“The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?” – Oscar Wilde

I remember vaguely the first time I witnessed a solar eclipse, and though there had been the usual fore-warnings, it still seemed very eerie. Suddenly but gradually watching the day turn to night and feeling as though time was standing still. I recollect wondering if that was how the end of the world would look like however several years later, with the benefit of knowledge and the chances I encountered, I know with absolute certainty that we will never tell what the future holds but we can with absolute certainty live our lives each day as though it were our last.

In the space of three days, I have sadly witnessed the passing on of three lives – three individuals who at different stages of my life left an impression on me. Even as I write now, it is still almost unreal however I know how fleeting life can be and how with the appropriate knowledge, we can make our lives at the very least count for something. A high school mate in his 40s, leaving behind a wife and two little kids. An amazing pastor in his 60s leaving behind a wife, two daughters and grandkids and most painful of all, a friend and sister succumbing to cancer just today. How do I feel? Shell-shocked and sorrowful but mourn them I will because it was indeed a privilege to have crossed paths and shared in each other’s life tales.

In the middle of the darkest phase of my life, when I was diagnosed with myoclonus dystonia, I remember how numbing it was to have my life turned upside down. And as I grappled with comprehending this major shift in my life, I desperately wanted to be left alone because I needed the time to process what life-transforming changes were taking place. Nonetheless, it is not unnatural to grieve but how we allow these moments of sheer grief and sorrow shape us is entirely up to each one of us. I remember how painful it was to lose everything that hitherto seemed priceless and begin to re-learn what the word priority meant and what things truly counted in life. I remember listening to the sermon titled ‘An ordinary life in the hands of an Extraordinary God!’ and bawling my eyes out as I sat unnoticed and brand new in Bethel London Riverside Church. For me, that was the beginning of another chapter of my life as I gradually began to make choices that counted for something.

That was where I met Pastor Ken Williamson; soft spoken and mild mannered along with a couple of others that I am truly honored to still call my friends. When I could barely afford the devastating fees associated with dystonia management, least of all muster the strength to feed myself, the church was there (a family of strangers bound together by the love of God) picking me up for service and dropping me off. Getting a welfare package regularly and getting to meet some of the nicest people on earth, I learned that it is really an awesome responsibility when your current location is but a vantage point that allows you see a need, because you see the need in order to attend to it. It is not all about money (that is a vital resource), it is the ability to put your storms/issues behind and stretch out a hand to someone else who is at the risk of succumbing to their own storm. Life is a journey whose distance we will never know and so how wise is it to ensure that each day is lived as an expression of gratitude to God as well as an expression of kindness to the lives we come across.

I remember vividly the first day I met Christina – jaunty and with a twinkle of mischief in her eyes and smile, clad in a simple black skirt and plaid shirt with tails tied together above her skirt. I remember how independent she always wanted to be, yet she never spared an ounce of kindness and concern wherever she was. That was the beginning of a relationship that would span a lifetime, through the good times and bad times. I remember being treated as a son by her parents, their house probably the only place I could get to without asking questions (I really suck with directions/navigation). I remember being there at the start of what would eventually be her marriage (recall her twinkly disbelieving laugh when I told her this was going to be it), and working very hard behind the scenes on her wedding day. Neither of us knowing where our paths would take us but completely eager to live a purposeful life.

And when my storms all but broke me down, she was there with me helping cater to the needs of my daughter and I. Selflessly setting her own issues afar and loving the best way only she could. And even when I got her to talk about her challenges, she did so with that unique style of making it sound as though it was nothing at all. A loyal friend, easy to talk with regardless of the thousands of miles that separated us – she was that friend who sticks closer than a brother. I remember the call, utter disbelief in her voice, informing me that she had been diagnosed with cancer. As always, I listened and together we encouraged ourselves, with me being the one with the ‘most’ experience. Reminding her that medical science can have its say but as long as we never give up, someday the eclipse would be over. Experience has taught me never to ask why because we actually lack the ability to comprehend even if we are privy to the answer. And when she told me that the doctors had said the chemotherapy was not working, I told her what I tell myself every morning – “this is my life and I choose to live it without surrendering!”

Today, I got the dreaded message and in this case, the third time wasn’t a charm in anyway. After a year of fighting hard, long after the date given by doctors, she finally succumbed and I envy her because I know for certain that she is finally rid of it all. She is in a place where there are no eclipses, where the horrifying grip of pain and anguish is not allowed….but still I mourn! I mourn because so many have intentionally deceived themselves into believing that money will get them the best boat, boats that have been certified ‘indestructible’ by men just like them. I mourn because amidst a world filled with hurting people, many intentionally turn a blind eye and when they are forced to see, their response is a torrent of meaningless ‘well-wishes’, copied prayers and total apathy. We will not be judged by what we have but rather what we have given, and someday when the inevitability of the end arrives, it will be clear what a life of misery and selfishness we have lived.

My battle is far from over but today I celebrate the lives of my friends whose giving has influenced who and where I am. I hoist aloft a banner of victory on their behalf, praying that when my time comes, someone will do the same for me. As I journey on with tattered sails, a battered vessel, I hear the voices rooting in my corner for me and the only option I choose is to pay it forward, regardless of recognition or reward. I choose to remember the words of William J.H. Boetcker that ‘the difficulties and struggles of today are but the price we must pay for the accomplishments and victories of tomorrow’ and so I press on even in the darkness of the eclipse, eyes searching out those who have all but given up. Giving a helping hand, listening ears and a piece of my bread so that together we will press on armed with the knowledge expressed by Elie Wiesel, ‘There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win!’

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

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!

Shattered existence….

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…Shattered Image.
 

“Do not be weary in well doing, for you will reap in due season………..if you faint not” – Galatians 6:9 (God’s Manual)

Phew! Happy new year!! It is the start of yet another wonderful year – 2016, it just rolls off the tongue and its so exciting that it is a leap year, makes it all the more special I dare say. Having my beautiful daughter explain the concept of a leap year is something that every parent would cherish because in those moments therein lies irrepressible and undaunting hope, and an embodiment of a greater tomorrow. When something occurs just once in four years, what are the odds that it will not be special. So I say it is a special and while I also acknowledge that it also represents time gone, my next task is evaluating and reviewing the time spent with the objective of improving on the good and discarding the bad. Resolutions? No! More like goals to me and being as regular as I can blogging, with improvement (one of the most obvious goals). There is also the goal to being a better me that I was last year, now that encompasses a huge lot….
 
I did not get to do anything since my last post in November (my unreserved apologies about that) because it was and will always be filled with lots of activities each persistently varying for my full attention and I am not the best at multi-tasking but I try to apportion and appropriate the limited resource that time is. Nothing has further drawn me closer to the fleeting and brittle nature of our existence with the births and deaths that closed last year. Now I unashamedly admit that regardless of how far a relationship you share with someone, a loss is painful and grief is not a sign of weakness. I have shared the pains with those who lost and celebrated the joys with those who were blessed, and either way, life does have its ups and downs. Fitting in requires something of a balancing skill if you want to have more than just a weak shot at living. I was sharing portions of my life story with a young friend and I told her that certain events occur in your live that reveal more of your humanity. Weeping is not exclusively for the weak, in actuality, it is a revelation and display of both empathy,compassion and our humanity.
 
I remember, not very vividly, the first time I beheld a mirror of my own back in the days ( it was kind of a luxury/’self centered’ icon) and taking out time to check out the acne, your own facial features (yep it was a handheld small one not the full length…) – funny now in retrospect but back then it was quite a task. Ensuring every hair strand is in place, the smile rehearsals for occasions that may come up, and even the different game faces, was it not a lot back then. And then like every other thing, it just happened, one day haste got the better of me and it slipped from my grip and hit the ground. Shards of glass all over the place…geez! being incensed does not quite capture my emotions, who I was incensed at did not even matter because it was all about the mirror. Getting the largest sliver, after hopelessly trying to childishly put it back together like a puzzle, I realized that the largest shard would have to suffice because trying to get a reflection from a put together cracked mirror is almost as frustrating as trying to leap into a moving plane (I am no Tom Cruise and even he had the necessary gear etc).
 
Attempting to put that shattered mirror together comes with some pain, glass is sharp (scars unequivocally attest to that) but in reality some things cannot be fixed. You did not make it in the first place even though you broke it, so move on. I have long ceased trying to fix others especially when it dawned on me decades ago (April 27, 1992 to be precise) that I so desperately needed fixing myself, but I choose to use that aspect of me that can encourage others to get a glimpse of themselves and realize that it is not as hopeless as it seems. Now having seen more than my fair share of medical experts and heard their droning, believe me when I say nothing is as hopeless as it seems even when you are the one responsible for the mess. Making the choice to be nice even when all the laws of science demand the alternative is not as easy as it is being written, said or read, you simply cannot do that all by yourself – you will drain yourself of your life energy. And so, I choose this year to continue to be nice even when I can not explain the reason to the next person. I choose to aspire to encourage even on the very bad days, and there have been quite a deluge of those days in recent times. The resonating joy is that I am doing things that I could not dare imagine some years ago. so for me, it is still a day – good or bad.
Looking back, like I tend to do, reminds me of how much time we spend expending so much negative emotions at everyone else and everything but ourselves that we fail to realize that regardless of how bad a situation may be, something can be salvaged from it. Without delving into my battle with Myoclonus, I have come almost a full 180 degrees based on the ongoing challenges I face and the ones I have overcome and still are. Joiv repeatedly tells me how unsettling it is the way I currently respond to situations, the usual reaction that was my trademark is slowly but evidently loosing its influence and I am not even aware. What I do know is that there is more to be gained treating others not just the way I want to be treated but maybe even better than I would (if that is possible). Does the truth have to be told? Oh most definitely, honesty is fundamental – the vehicle that conveys that truth is what you certainly have to make a choice on. Malleability was one of my best words in high school because of the definition and having it as a trait (from the human perspective) is also nice, being able to adapt to change without being too rigid or too amorphous goes a long way in living life easier. Pertinent to note is that whether we like it or not, change is indeed the only permanent thing in life. Word play is an art, and is best utilized by the greatest minds.
 
In the last few weeks – the closing of last year and the beginning of this year, I have seen more of the idiosyncrasies of individuals up, close and personal and it does not drive me as oddly (up the wall fast) as it used to because it is so much easier to live when you appreciate that people are simply a result of the choices they have and are still making, throw in handful of the experiences they have been through and how much they allowed themselves to be torn up or thrust up, accompany that with the lifestyle they presently choose and you have yourself a meal, oops a package/profile of that individual. Now, admittedly,  it has not been very palatable but it just helps in being able to process very fast and still choose to be nice without loosing your cool and reverting back to that inherent vicious brute that is somewhere hidden inside. For me; up, close and personal is certainly not the best of options for me (no thanks to myoclonus) but I have also seen that you are forced to make instant decisions on whether being a Christian is a garment that can easily be tossed aside when the gloves come off or that it is a lifestyle that inevitably calls for some sacrifices that are so difficult to make. Closed quarters just like adversity brings out the real you.
 
Our lives are more than a reflection of our physical semblance in a mirror, they are the instruments for living out a tale that will motivate others to move up to higher and more stable grounds…or not! We are all on this journey called life and no matter how reclusive you are, you will always encounter someone else and the moments you spend with that person might be all you may ever have, so what deters us from making those moments count. I have been bitter, resentful, unforgiving etc and so I can recognize them when I see them but I choose to learn from my own playbook (God’s manual) and not get into the trenches with those negative emotions because that right there is a leap backwards, a plunge into mucky waters…when we ought instead to be moving forwards and heading upwards. That is actually where the best is! Learn from the mistakes of history so that we do not repeat them, the history has been done however the future is still to be. We choose either to dwell continually in the past or make today count towards a better tomorrow, however the resource called time is not ours to fiddle with.
 
I have stopped trying to see a reflection of myself from the put together pieces of a broken mirror because it is just futility to the letter, instead focusing more on what I have learned from past reflection, I am moving on with as much spring as my knees and back can take, my cane is quite handy too. With a jaunty whistle to the tune in my heart, I move on because it is not so much as the reward that awaits me in due season, it is also about not growing weary and fainting – now therein lies the question that only me/you can answer. Where does my/your strength lie? And my response is still unchanged, my eyes are lifted up to the hills where His inexhaustible reserves of strength lies awaiting. For this new year, where do you choose to draw strength from because we both assuredly know that we cannot do it all by ourselves by any means. The harder we try, the less we have of ourselves to give but give we must so there had better be something good to give otherwise we will be so minimized; with all the negative emotions already overwhelming society, that our lives will count for nothing and to me that is the most pitiable thing that can ever happen to an individual.
 
Remember that there is just one of you amongst the billions in the world, make that count by aspiring to be the best you can be, there really is no competition save for walking in accordance with the purpose of Your Creator. Let go of striving to see ourselves in the warped reflection of broken mirrors, adjudging yourself by the expectations of people and just be YOU! Even when you think you have failed, get back up and begin again, you are in no competition with another you. My prayers are that this year will not just be the best year we have lived but that we will each plug into the life cord that flows from God and together live such a life that the world would be saddened to see us go.
 
מאי להאירובנעימות עליך עד שנפגש שוב .
Adios!

Defined in defiance…….

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Bring it on!

                                              Bring it on!

Every great man, every successful man, no matter what the field of endeavor has known the magic that lies in these words: every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit” – W. Clement Stone

Sometimes, usually most times, the best of us is glimpsed when the going is at its most toughest. It is no huge fear of intellectual superiority that brings the realisation upon us, that we all must have some sort of anchor even as we sail on life’s unpredictable waters. The question is when the storm hits, how firmly tethered are we to our anchor and more importantly what are we anchored to? It has always been a much easier route to just allow ourselves to be like flotsam on the seas however what exactly is the achievement of flotsam but to serve as deterrents, chaff and sometimes nourishment for another living organism but one with properly defined purpose.

I hit one of my low ebbs yesterday and it is quite difficult but oddly familiar encountering the blank stares from people when the subject of dystonia is brought to the fore. Well, nothing really to be alarmed about because this is from the journey of one who has had the very rug swept so violently from beneath him that calling it a fall would be be a stunning display of tactfulness and diplomacy. I have witnessed, sometimes in such an emotional rollercoaster of a ride that even vertigo is almost blissful, the depths of strength that we unknowingly possess and just like the five foolish virgins, we allow the best moments pass us by because we have failed to understand the times and therefore are ill-prepared when those moments arise. Nurturing that seed discovered during great diversity is definitely not a task for the faint hearted, it is what truly defines you however it frequently is associated with the tenacity to defy the odds so heavily stacked against us.

There is nothing that cannot be achieved when we truly set our minds, apply ourselves to and keep our heads and eyes uplifted even in the face of smirking attitudes of detractors and naysayers. Do give it some thought; because one of the very first lessons I learnt in science is that nature/life abhors vacuum and so regardless of your indifference, you are either helping prop people up or simply put, you are gleefully tearing others down or so viciously attempting to do so. Hey! You must be on one side and unfortunately the skill set to vacillate between both ends is yet to be created, so where does that put you? Facing the struggles of pulling yourself up is no mean task and quite daunting I must admit. However, the strength to push through the odds and limitations that we have been unwillingly thrust into is the beginning of a signature lifestyle that will be an example for many.

As I toiled with my perceived failings of yesterday, I was quietly reminded by JOIV that I am usually my worst critic and sometimes we need to be reminded of where we have come from. Dwelling on the successes of the past has the ability to either make you a dreamer with no urge to wake up from the self-induced slumber or it can challenge you to make today count with its own share of success, irrespective of how seemingly tiny the steps we have made. The bottom line is that it is best to totter forward on tiny steps, with the appropriate attitude of gratitude to God who is in charge and quietly steering us towards an end that is simply incomprehensible when we dare to imagine, than slide backwards. The reality is not that we are limited by dystonia or whatever fancy words that science has so eagerly tagged these limitations but how desperate are we to defy these convoluted words and constraints, and actually use the broken bricks in our life to fashion something worthy of being a Masterpiece. That has always been what we are, we just so obviously lack the knowledge and understanding!

The great heroes from the past had their own struggles, not like dystonia some will vociferously argue however these heroes would not be if they had succumbed to their limitations. Moses was a stutterer, Peter was uneducated, Paul was a fanatic and yet they changed their world, defying authority and the traditions of men that had been blindly followed for centuries. Beethoven defied deafness, Handel defied blindness, need I mention Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Fanny Crosby? They were defiant and refused to succumb to an acceptable symbol of helplessness, instead they defined themselves through these limitations and so I  dare to ask myself, why not? I am unashamed to say that defying odds is no easy task and of course there will be days like yesterday where your limitations best you and ignorant people amuse themselves at your expense but then they are doing what they can only do, they did not create me and so why should I let their ignorance and misplaced priorities define me. That call is mine to make, and that towel will never be thrown into the ring regardless of how unsteady I seem or whether tremors are seen as fear or some other unrelated emotion.

I am defined not by the utterances of men but the carefully crafted promises of an infallible God, who does what He says He will do and without counsel from anyone – who dares to counsel Him anyway? Who can rewrite His script for my life? Who can relocate me from where He has placed me or has a better destination for me than His? He has blessed me and so what can stand against that? And so even as I set my face like flint, with the radiance of His beauty illuminating my paths, I know that I can do all things because He’s my strength and what inexhaustible reserves are available to me. I have walked through the valley at its darkest and emerged strengthened not weakened. Stumbled through thorns and emerged with the fragrance of the roses permeating my life. It is with this encounters that I am convinced that despite the low of yesterday’s experience, today is the present and marks yet another opportunity to have a better day – that is the choice I have made already in the wee hours of today. I am committed to finishing well not just for me but as a symbol of appreciation for the gift of my life, and the lives of a myriad of others that I am privileged to meet.

Remember this, no other man has the capacity to define your life but you and so instead of rolling over like a possum and play dead, I arise today determined to make it count for good. My limbs may tremble, doubts may lurk at the corners waiting to jump out but I will be defiant in the face of all the odds and make my journey worthwhile. That is what I, at the very least owe myself because there will always be many others craving for that ember of hope just to persevere, and that is what I can and do give.

פרידה עד Continue reading

The puzzle of simplicity….

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Puzzle and simplicity

Puzzle & Simplicity!

Ever had this feeling that you have so much bottled up inside you that it felt like the slightest nudge would definitely cause you to metamorphose into a fully functional but uncontrolled fire hydrant? It has become so lame whenever these words are uttered ‘life is unfair’ that sometimes we fail to acknowledge the wealth of wisdom hidden behind those three words. I certainly know how unfair life can be but I also know that there is a world of difference between the perception of the unfair times and the choices we feel compelled to make during those times.

The last few weeks have been very revealing, for the lack of a more suitable term, and like every moment we experience as we journey through life, it also adds more zing to my individual and very unique story. Who we are at the end of our journey is a thoroughly mixed blend of all the various moments, lessons and experiences we encountered in the course of our lives – that is why we are as diverse as the word means. It is such an awesome but completely humbling experience when we are privileged to catch but a glimpse of life and its mysteries;  Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning” – Jedidiah. To some of us, that which we so assiduously pursue with every waking breath, is as meaningless as the chaff that is blown off wheat, to another. So the question is if the same fate awaits each and every one of us, how do we apply our waking moments to ensure that we are not just a very vague memory in the lives of those that we were privileged to encounter?

Tomorrow, my best friend celebrates the beginning of another new year and for me, that transitional phase holds so much potential because it is an opportunity to review our past and appropriately align our paths towards where we are headed. I have cause to celebrate too, because just being honored to share in and witness the beginning of another phase of someone very special is also a reminder that I too have had and will also have beginnings and what better privilege it is when we are given a heads start or a leg boost upwards. And whilst I rejoice and celebrate my best friend, I also realize that the choices I make will definitely influence my own beginnings as the different seasons of my own life come up, so that is mixed feelings right there – what do I choose? Dwell on the negatives or bask in the triumphs of the past or take a chestful of invigorating fresh air and gear myself to march onward.

I recall quite vividly one of the lessons I learned as a youngster during our family devotions, it was a story from the pages of ‘Just A Moment Please’ – A.J Maurus. A father saddled with meeting the dictates of his job also had for that day, the responsibility of attending to the unceasing needs of his little son (baby-sitting). Finding his son’s incessant demand for attention a little distracting, he thought of the best way to keep his little son occupied for a long stretch of time so as to enable him focus more on the task at hand. Quickly reaching a supposedly foolproof solution, he took out a page from that morning’s newspaper with the world map boldly captured on the page that his son had been playing with, ripped it into tiny bits and asked the little son to play an impromptu game of puzzle by trying to put the world map together. Excitedly both father and son turned their attention to their individual tasks, the father believing that the puzzle would keep his son preoccupied for the greater part of the time.

In less than an hour, the little boy shrieked out delightedly to his father that he had completed the puzzle. As expected, the father was stunned that his son who could barely understand the word ‘continent’ least of all the study of cartography and geology had completed the puzzle in so short a time. Believing that it was just a characteristic case of short attention span, he walked into the little boy’s room and amazingly beheld the world map correctly put together. Seemingly at a loss for words, he asked his son how he had so quickly figured the puzzle correctly. With a twinkle in his little blue eyes and that look reserved for ‘disappointingly slow’ parents, he walked up to the put-together map and turned it around, behold there was a picture of a man on the reverse side. In his little bubbly voice, he explained “When I put the man together, the world came together!”

Decades have passed and still I recall that simple lesson: when and if we can put the man (ourselves) together, then the world will simultaneously come together. Pretty simple but undeniably very puzzling especially when you take into cognizance the idiosyncrasies and unique but different values that make us who we are. Today, that lesson still rings true and whilst many of us choose to focus on the unfairness of life, the simpler task would be to get our individual acts together and then watch in astonishment as the world or our immediate environment comes together. It is so much easier to hurl blames at other people for our unfair circumstances, but truth be told, while it is so more difficult to set on the single task of putting ourself together, when and if we do, the results would be beyond what we could ever imagine. “The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity” – Douglas Horton

Recalling the discussion I had with one of my business associates, Johann – I was completely blown away when he said that his objective in successfully starting up his Real Estate Investment firm was not to become a millionaire. Modesty in play? Definitely not! Experience has taught me to recognize sincerity when I hear it, besides I also know him a teeny weeny bit.  It has become (and always was) a hugely growing norm now for people to leap onto the band wagon of someone else’s opinion, tear it apart, poke holes and do as much destruction as they can think up. Once that urge has been satisfied, a complete turn around is done where that opinion carries the day (success) and when failure results, then a search for the next wagon to jump on begins. It requires less work putting the puzzle together when and only if we realize that we are very much a part of that next person’s story, each of us is the man behind the map of someone else’s life and if we devote just a little portion of our time in putting our lives together as opposed to destroying “another’s life/opinion/stance”, imagine how many puzzles we would have succeeded in completing and how much good work little old you would have done.

I, for one, choose to be different and while my end is yet afar off, I opt to work more on getting my own act together. There is a purpose to every life, discovering it is a good start. Remember, the quality of whatever we aspire for or dream of can only be made manifest in the quality of what we give others. We are, because someone gave and regardless of how despondent the circumstances are demanding of you – you still get to choose. Make it count!

עד שנפגש שוב , אני נפרדתי ממךלשלוםוטוב ביותר שאתה לבד ראוי .

Adios!

Hoping; truth and Realism……..

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hope

Hope unconquerable.

Phew! Without so much of a fuss on the part of anyone, we are already in the third month of the year 2015. Surprisingly the number 3, across several divides and discourse, has some bit of symbolism to it and for me, it is many things – Divine sovereignty, my birth month, my position in the order of siblings, and for a while it was my favorite number. Why? I just loved it or better put, I chose to love it however that would be the subject of another write up hopefully. Borrowing the thoughts of Vera Nazarian; “Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:
1. Acceptance
2. Understanding
3. Appreciation
Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart. Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable. Think about it — do you really want to live in a world of only two dimensions? So, for the love of a triangle, please keep love whole.” 

It has been over 40 days since I put thoughts to word, my sincere apologies to those I have left hanging. The stark truth is we are each made to complement one another and how dreadful it would be if I did not hope and believe that someone somewhere was taking the time to read my thoughts. To you, I say a gracious thank you and pray that your aspirations would dwarf your immediate limitations, if any exist because I speak from the perspective of one who has seen his immediate limitations grow in leaps and bounds. In admitting that, does that deprive me of hope or rob me of the knowledge of truth? Definitely not, I know that I have been created for the long haul and properly equipped at such and perchance when those dark days loom, I also have realized that the resources from which I draw on daily are not and can never be measured by man. I have had everything taken away from me, not by choice in whatever dimension, but I stand today, so much better than I have ever been.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was blessed to be ministered to by the One World Children’s Choir and even as I looked upon the huge smiles and the pure love emanating from their actions – something dark and sinister struggled to shake me off my perch. With a surge of emotions, I recalled how easy it is to feel alone and hopeless but I quickly reminded myself with the truth that there can be no life without hope. How else can anyone begin to explain the chain of events that have uniquely characterized our individual paths through life? What are the indices that reveal the superiority of your life when compared to the next face beside you? As each of the kids went through the routines, obviously practiced but yet seemingly original, I realized that the life we live can and will only be evaluated by the choices we make.

Unknowingly, there is a growing curiosity about the difference between truth and fact. Some school of thought say that truth is subjective while fact is not, others disagree on the grounds that they mean the same thing. I could go on and on however I just want to share my thoughts especially for one who has witnessed both extremes in almost every aspect of life. I opine that both are different – each differentiated by its reference base. For me, truth is simply truth; it is what the Sovereign God says and be you from the North pole or the South pole, there is no higher authority than God. For me, the test is what can you appropriately compare truth with. What people referred to as facts centuries ago have either been slightly amended or completely thrashed however I choose to rely on truth as the only virtue that has the inherent potential and capacity of completely liberating you. Is the truth real? Yes it is. Is it tangible? Now that is bound to be contextual…..

I was privileged to celebrate a new year a couple of days ago, and amidst the outpouring of well wishes, prayers, gifts etc I reminded myself that I could never have made it this far without hope in the truth despite the reality of the situation. it is that hope that births the dreams and aspirations that guide me through the turbulent waters of life. And just like the blinking light atop the light tower, I am guided inexorably by what I have chosen to accept and believe. Regardless of the incessantly changing tides of life, this truth stands out – I am who God says I am and whether I choose to believe it or not, the propensity for hurt is overwhelmingly stacked on the latter. We are blessed, whether we believe it or not yet again, for the sole purpose of blessing others and how ironic would it be for anybody to say that there is nothing each day to be thankful for. This truth trounces every religion and thought process. The follow up question then would be, if we admit that there is something to be thankful for each day then why can we not share that gratitude with someone else. Give and take, Yin and Yang, Life and Death – to everything there is a beginning and an end, an action and reaction, a positive and negative…..

Without us beginning, there would be no end, and then throw in a little high school physics and we might just get stuck in the inevitability of never being able to garner all knowledge. What we do with the little that we have or are given is what determines whether the subject of hope is a reality in itself. We can choose to make our lives as real as possible by giving hope to someone else, because we are, simply because someone gave. We receive only because someone gave. Now I have since acknowledged that riches are not synonymous with happiness, real contentment and joy can only be achieved when we fulfill. Fulfill what? Fulfill that for which you were made, I tell myself every moment that for goodness, kindness etc, it is better late than never. To forgive is divine, but it is humanly to err. To begin again always seems more difficult but do a 360 degree evaluation and you will agree that there must always be a start. For me, each new day is an opportunity to be the hope that someone else so desperately craves and for as long as there is breath in this fragile body, I choose to believe that “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho

I must begin with myself each new day and whether twilight catches me still unfinished, I know that tomorrow will begin with me being better than where I was yesterday.

Remember, the quality of whatever we aspire for or dream of can only be made manifest in the quality of what we give others. We are, because someone gave and regardless of how despondent the circumstances are demanding of you – you still get to choose. Make it count!

עד שנפגש שוב , אני נפרדתי ממךלשלוםוטוב ביותר שאתה לבד ראוי .

Adios!

….your perspective?

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Lift up your eyes

Looking UP

“You may not control all of the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them” – Maya Angelou

I am fully recovered from my time with the Winchester 1200, the 91/30 Mosin Nagant amongst others and yes I am still dealing with the frosty displeasure of JOIV (for embarking on such activities, I understand and apologize) however I have and am fully committed to acknowledging that life is but a journey and today is the gift we will receive and so do what you have to do (the right things) because tomorrow you will have no regrets. Oh yeah, I do have to deal with the repercussions of subjecting this body to crossing the line that has all together become too close to me and yet I choose to go to bed each day, most times bruised and aching but nonetheless with a smile on my face.

I am still finding it extremely difficult to do an objective comparison between the health care I have received before now and the one I am receiving presently. Although the words – incurable, rare neurological disorder along side other big sounding no longer scary terms like ataxia etc, are still the same but they are delivered in such a beautiful and concerned manner that my convictions about never succumbing to whatever it is remains unmoved. I know countless many out there who either by ignorance or sheer helplessness have become victims and yet I am also acknowledging with thumbs up raised, those that have chosen to stay down in the trenches because whether the war is won or lost, you will always be a victor.

It is less than 72 hours since my last review with the wonderful medical team that I have been blessed with, and I know that whilst I may not know the length of time ahead, I am convinced that I am having and will have the best days of my life. That remains my choice and even as I battled to ease the usual anxiety that accompanies my every visit to the hospital or tried to explain to the harried nurse why she would never be able to take my blood pressure with the beautiful electronic sphygmomanometer, I steeled myself with the beautiful truths that I keep forever in my sights……surmised in the beautiful quote by Maya Angelou. Events are ceaseless and sometimes beyond our control but how these events play out is a thing that we definitely have control over.

One of the phrases/questions that has bemused me in the past days is ‘how are things looking?’ I love photography and one of the first lessons I learned was that whatever you can see in the lens is what gets captured in the picture and so when I lift up my eyes to the hills where my strength comes from (that is within my control, regardless of blepharospasm) then inadvertently everything around me has no other option but to look up. Now the picture of our lives is simply a reflection of what we have chosen to look at. Regardless of your physical and/or geographical location, perspective will always be defined by the choice you make with your eyes and your mind. Now correct me if I am wrong when I say those senses are still within your control, no matter how bad a condition you are in. I can recollect with clarity, the humorously creepy stuff we used to do whilst in high school – a friend of mine would tape his eyelids to his forehead in a bid to keep awake so as to study and would inevitably fall asleep with his eyes wide-open. Now that was a choice made!

And so even as I reminisce some of those days past gone, I realize that there were priceless lessons that have made me who I am today. Our purpose in life can only be attained when we refuse to be denigrated by whatever life throws at us because our choices, no matter how little they may be, will always count for something. Even if the FICO god has not heeded our supplications, there is One who is more than able to help us through whatever storm we are in but hold on a minute, we have to look up in earnest and in utter dependence on His ability to see us through and not just see us through but do so in such a manner that we emerge at the end (from the furnace/storm) with the best fragrance that cannot be fathomed by those who have given up on us and those who have made themselves silent spectators (#haters). 

“Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying” – Martin Luther. For me, I have learned that no one else has plans that can completely encapsulate you, so why not make something out of what and where you are today. Not just for yourself (cos that would be selfish and small) but for the benefit of the one or two that will cross paths with you. Make each day a lesson, an example for others to follow in today’s world because even in the dungeons there is hope, if only you can but lift up your eyes and so I say that being of good cheer is a choice that you can make whether your cards are maxed out, your employer has done the unthinkable, your assets have undergone a name change and the bills are billowing all around you like a discomfiting dust storm. Remember that the night may be long and seemingly unending, but discover and nurture that which has been placed in you, hold onto it because surely the day will come and then if, and only if you have sown, wait because surely there must be a harvest. That too must come……

Remember “I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.” – MLK

עד שנפגש שוב בזמן שלו, לא דגל לבן הוא אי פעם הולך לתלות מהמשקוף שלי

Adios!