Keeping Up Appearances..

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2020

“A friend who understands your tears is much more valuable than a lot of friends who only know your smile.” I do remember my first lesson in gratitude when as a kid, I really did not like the pair of shoes that I was told to put on and with a stern look, my father said, “Someday, you will come across a man who has no feet and then you will appreciate that contentment is a choice.” Those words certainly popped up more times than I can count as I grew up and even though there were several occasions I chose wrongly however thank God for second chances.

It is the beginning of not just another year but specifically it is the beginning of another decade and I am truly grateful to be blessed because chance happens to everyone but not everyone has the ability to utilize life’s chances. Every year, I try to spend the first moments, the first minutes, the first hour in being thankful and then it is off to the races as I attempt to implement the personalized theme for that year. This year was just a tad different because I was confined to my bed for almost 2 straight weeks and so I had to be resourceful even as every move brought a groan of intense agony. Regardless of the limitations of my circumstances and some, it was time to ensure that I was on D (drive) not Park or Neutral and just power through.

What is that (in)famous quote of insanity? ‘Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity or folly’ and so just as the year in itself is unique with lots of mystery, it is therefore important that the past has been reviewed so that the past remains history (moving on with lessons learned) as I deal with the present and look ahead faithfully for the best future yet. No resolutions for me, just a decision to make this year better than the past years and unfortunately that includes backing away from what I would normally (and often bullishly) tackle. The default nature of man is to address people based on their appearance however with the surge of social media, appearances are often a far cry from reality. Is it my decision to be a better sleuth or discerner of people’s intent? Most definitely not, my decision is to separate fact from truth, fiction from fantasy by learning more; meaning that I need to listen more than I speak.

Worry and complain are definitely not on my list of traveling companions, they just suck out the joy of today and deflate the enthusiasm of hope; hope of a better future. I choose to literally implement the words of a young lady who means the world and so much more to me, “stop stressing yourself!” and ironically I have always categorized myself as one who never stressed – talk about how others except yourself see your actions! So instead of thinking that I am not stressing, I am forging a new path by making sure that I am relaxed and chill come what may. 357 days yet to come, each day completely enshrouded with its portion of blessings and evils, with little or nought to do but pray and trust God. My decision is to find and embrace the serenity that comes with each new day, regardless of how little a portion it might be. I choose to accept that the future is such a delight that fabulous really does not capture it, and so my appearance this year is more of what is going on inside me rather than what the eyes can clearly see.

Taking cognizance of the fact that I am flawed and imperfect, yet I choose not to dwell on those imperfections but rather strive to become better each day; forgive more, offend less, be more accessible and vulnerable. This year, I commit to leaving the past behind, with its share of hurts and resentment in order to walk lighter and see a horizon much more clearer than it ever was. I admit that the journey did not even begin comfortably but I am grateful that I can repair what can be mended, discard that which cannot be fixed and truly number my days with wisdom. Thank you for being a part of my journey and I may not know your name however I am thankful for the privilege of encountering you. Together, let us make this year our best year yet albeit in little gestures but more importantly let us learn to live.

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

Adios!

….bathing in the rain!

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It is exactly 12 years to this day that I unilaterally took a leave of absence from my cozy job with one of the globally recognised brands in the banking/financial industry to sign up at the orientation/boot camp for the Direct Short Service Corp into the Navy. To many, it would have come across as an act bordering on the vestiges of insanity but for me, I had become completely fed up with the monotony of the regular 9 – 5 and just needed something more adventurous. Being put through the paces was no exercise for the faint-hearted especially after the daily wailing of the bugle interrupted whatever respite I was trying to have. Nonetheless, this was what I wanted.

Today, I have no regrets because from that decision, my life took on so many twists and turns that being in a maze would not be too much of a stretch for the mind. Five years after that decision, my neurological system opted to become autonomous and I plunged headfirst into an unfamiliar world of neuroscience, neurologists, dystonia, myoclonus, sciatica, insomnia. Pain, both external and internal, became constant companions and suddenly my to-do list which included setting up funds for my daughter up to university levels suddenly became just a scrap note. Struggling to understand what and how I had started occupying a niche in the opposite extreme from the fiercely independent, highly analytical and logical fellow to becoming someone who pride meant little or nothing to as I struggled with the simplest of tasks like getting out of bed. It seemed as though there were myoclonus triggers hidden behind every simple chore

I can still recall how unreal it sounded (returning from my weekly visit to the chiropractor) as I boarded a crowded Bus 379 from Ilford to Dagenham, when the driver (bless her soul) turned around in her seat and announced “could somebody please get up and give this disabled man a seat.”….Oh yes, she was referring to me and even though I still did not see myself as being disabled, that was me and the picture people saw. It is kind of crazy when you have these flashbacks and suddenly huge waves of nostalgia tend to drown you. How did I get here? What happened to the detailed plan I had? But there I was, all alone, each day a constant battle raging within my soul as I strove to overcome the limitations of my physical strength. Mind over matter! Mind over matter! The mantra did not seem as easy as it was when I wrote it down or told someone else.

Fast forward to this day, I can attest how topsy-turvy this journey has been and I mark today as a notable one because it has always been about the choices God helped me make each day. Refusing to give into the waiting arms of hopelessness and depression, realising that my life meant more to some other person besides me, that even when the clouds were so dark that it could pass for midnight and the gales of the biting cold winter buffeted me so much, I just had to persevere some more even if it meant calling out to or accepting the help of a stranger. Today, I realise that as many strangers came up to me to thank me for inspiring them, they were infact the very ones who were a source of inspiration to me. Strategically placed by God for times when I wanted to just give up, today they are my family.

From those dark days, the light now shines and yes there are still dark days (obviously) but I look around and realise that the options I had back then are still the same two – quit and sink or struggle as hard as I could and stay afloat. We all go through life and what we eventually become is a reflection of the everyday choices you and I make. That the very bleak times we sometimes face can either be a garment that we get lost in or we can use them as the opportunity to train our eyes to see that tiny glimmer of light ahead. We could use those times to lose the individuality of our person or we could use them to further understand that to every limit and constraint, we still get to call the shot because we all were created for a purpose. We could use those times to understand that we were not created to walk alone as against using it as a benchmark for all the bitterness and pent-up resentment just looking for an outlet.

I woke up today, realising that when it is pouring outside – it presents an ample opportunity for me to just get out there and wash off the grime that has built up from listening to the wrong people. To wash off the grime that comes from basing my actions on thinking that my efforts will always be appreciated. To wash off the grime that comes from succumbing to the heat of the moment and letting scathing words do damage, if I choose to. To wash off the grime that comes from engaging in thankless tasks and expecting other people to be grateful for what I do. Today, as always, I choose not to stop because these very ones are there unwittingly to further propel me to heights yet unknown. The rain will always pour, what we see it as and what we do with it is best left to each person. Notwithstanding what we do with it, it will surely rain and as each peal of thunder reverberates through the heavens and the lightening slashes through the skies, it is up to us to choose on what side of the line we want to stand and live.

Remember that it is in the house of sorrow that much wisdom is learnt and it is in the times of adversity that you best count your friends. For on this journey called life, there will always be a meeting and a farewell and so make every opportunity an event that will never be forgotten.

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

Adios!