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!

Stacking the cards…..

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Stack it!

Sometimes it just seems that when we are almost at the end of the tunnel, to our alarm and utmost chagrin, we realize that there is just a minor bump ahead of us and whilst our reserves are screaming depleted, somehow we must pick ourselves up and plod on. Now it has truly been a long break from writing and this has been in no way due to a desire to get out from the light but just another reminder that time is a fleeting entity. Whatsoever thine hands findeth to do, do it quickly because there surely comes a time when there can be no gathering of hay and woe betide you that during that time, slothfulness and laziness have become your closest buddies. “Too often man handles life as he does the bad weather, he whiles away the time as he waits for it to stop” – Alfred Polgar

Admittedly, the weather has been of a variety of sorts and to some degrees, it has been a very busy period for me and mine. Getting myself properly set up for the best days of my life and as always, the inevitability of teething problems is one that is being dealt with and suffice me to say that milk is utterly inappropriate for a grown man as myself and so without sounding too cocky, I know what the future holds for me. Regardless of the nay sayers and the doubters, somethings are inexplicably irrefutable – I am a survivor because I am more than a conqueror. And whilst it still saddens me at some of the whiplashes from the past, it will be unerringly obtuse of me to say that everything will be as it once was because from the dying embers of a flame, soot and ashes can be gathered but the brightness of the flame is one that hitherto lost, can and will be reignited again by choice. Somethings are irreparably re-positioned and what an exercise in futility were I to spend my present days in trying to rewrite history when a new generation eagerly awaits lessons learned to be passed on.

Someone ‘disparagingly’ told me in regal tones, “I do not even care to read your blog” and I am truly amazed that we more often than not, without the wisdom learned from passing through adverse times, choose to keep ourselves completely occupied and embroiled with affairs that pertain only to our own small world. Behold the beauty of the new day and compare that to how infinitesimally minute we are but yet we still make that choice to superimpose our views over that which is beyond our comprehension and control. It is such a thing of indescribable joy when the victory chants are finally resounding after series of long battles, and for me, the battles have been long and weary but the chants are just beginning. Without an iota of self glory, I attribute it all to He who alone is the very Essence of my being and true, the bumps may still come up now and then but hear it from me o ye people – my identity is ‘God is leading me’ and where he leads, I will follow for there I know that the end definitely surpasses my wildest imagination. The best victories are those evidenced by the defeated, not by any intentional display on my part (I have got more meaningful endeavors to apply myself to), but because the defining nature of truth is that it cannot be hidden or masked.

My latter days are so much better than my former, and indeed time keeps count as it winds down to an end someday but what a life still to be lived. What opportunities there remain to be grasped and appropriately utilized – be it in the few minutes spent in the office of a young career mother as she determines to let go of the past 16 years and begin again. To her and the many others out there who care to hear, it is better late than never. What is hope without trying times? What is faith without the darkness that so coldly blankets for a while? What is love without the arduous task of navigating the stormy waters of bitterness and derision? What is life without death? What are the realities that so headily confront us that we inadvertently choose to give up and succumb? We are who we are for a reason, we each have our unique identity, purpose and goal and so what an abysmal manifestation of our gifts when we choose to define ourselves by the actions of others? I have long made that choice and because I still plod on, situations and events will arise that will put to test that choice. That choice is mine to uphold and albeit if I have to do it alone because truly we are never alone.

The stars are indeed lining up, truly radiant in their celestial glory – my path is clear, sometimes hidden in the swirls of darkened clouds but clear it is and as I place each foot one ahead of the other, I make my way towards my expected end. My teeth may be gritted sometimes, brows furrowed, disappointments etching out the opportunities and blessings ahead but yet I will because I am led and even through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid because He alone is my Shepherd and I will never want. This is one story that you are part of, irrespective of the good or bad role played, I am telling it with all the fervour that lies beneath my breast. That can never be taken away from me because I am who I am – more than a conqueror.

Remember “You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration” – James Allen. Again, you have to choose….

החיים שלנו הם מתנות מאלוהים , מה שאנחנו בוחרים לעשות עם זה הוא אובהערכה או זלזול גמור של מתנה ש….. עד שנפגש שוב , ייתכןשהשמש מאירה את הדרך שלך .

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!