Abducted as a child. Sexually molested as a kid. Witnessed domestic abuse up close. Bullied then learned street survival as a pre-teen. Knocked unconscious by a thrown discus in junior high. Survived an acid bath in high school. Survived two ghastly automobile crashes. Witnessed the violence of religious fanaticism. Been shot at by friend and foe. Betrayed by friend and family. Disillusioned by Lady Justice (oh, she’s blindfolded). Knocked from grace to grass. Saddled with an exotic neurological disease. We each have sullied memories but also démodé is the sincerity of our vulnerability.
Like most people, still I stand on this side of life, albeit reeling and wheezing from another blindsided body punch. My past played some role in shaping me but it will not and has not defined me, that’s an area where my choice counts and mightily at that. The truth is that I don’t know when my end will come however, what I do know is that even though misery loves company, I’m never going to accept an invitation nor be the celebrant at any ‘event’ of such. I have seen lives lost over little issues and semi-truck sized issues to know that you must make hay during the day because the night when human beings sleep is coming. I have grieved too many times but I know sorrow’s curtain call is still a far distance away, so the journey continues, to a destination that’s beyond my wildest imagination. Therein lies the hope that takes me through each day, good or bad.
Today, I mark another milestone; a unique gift that can only come from One Giver. I am blessed with another year and even though I don’t like surprises, He’s got a huge sense of humor and whatever the circumstances are, I know He knows my name and He’s not done with me yet. Today is a permutation of variables that I would never have imagined, yet I stand, not by my own strength (heck! I can barely get out of bed most days without assistance). I stand, not in arrogance, but in awe of the dexterity of my Maker so I celebrate Him because He alone is the essence of my being. It’s kind of ironic realizing that love hurts and yet, that is a debt we are inexorably obligated to pay to the lives we are given the opportunity to encounter as we each continue on our separate journeys. The irony lies both in the fact that you can obey or be defiant in your stupidity, and that most times the love is never appreciated, least of all reciprocated.
My head and heart hurt but even that cannot cast a pall over the numerous reasons why I must be thankful. Like a friend said, ‘choose to see the glass of water as half full’ so that’s still my choice. The juxtaposition of wisdom in sorrow cannot be comprehended by my feeble mind, neither can my frail body confidently attest to how I am still in one piece and therein lies another reason to be thankful. Every past traumatic event, just like being on a treadmill, burning off the fat and unhealthy parts of me so that I can withstand the current rigors of purposeful living. Today I have lost more friends than I ever thought I would have made but it has also revealed the few remarkable ones that remain. Spanning three generations, I see them and I am thankful.
What do I say to my Mother India who’s burying the last of her 2 daughters at the end of this week? It is well? Oh most definitely not, but in the face of the stampede we live in, where education is not about the acquisition of knowledge, we stride around with puffed chests and flaunt our ignorance. It is well, yes,……but with my soul! Go figure out how to speak to your soul and allow me relish in the absence of your persona and its associated superfluity of nothingness. There’s an intangible gravity to the word ‘woe’ so I always use it with trepidation, it does not convey the same tenuousness as sad or sorrow. However, I am in no way embarking on a pseudo intellectual debate on the shimmer and nitty-gritty of English grammar. ‘Woe to they who trust in the arm of flesh…..’ and right there, that word beginning the sentence is enough to dissipate even the fog of inebriation.
One of my favorite quotes is this, paraphrased, ‘row upon row of rowdy spectators, crowd the vast arena full but there’s only one man who knows and he’s the one to face the bull.’ This year, more than ever, I am going to remind myself first before others who permit me to speak (permit not indulge) that even in the face of stormy waters, I will tell myself this; “it is well….with my soul” and I’d rather you didn’t tell me because you don’t know me. No offense intended, I rarely indulge in soliloquy but those three words to some degree, conveyorize familiarity and I truly don’t know you. Nobody truly does but rather than putting in the work to listen so as to obtain a better purview, we often traipse the path most traveled. It’s easier!
What’s the easiest way to discern a fool? The inexplicable concerted effort of a human being doing the same thing over and over and over, and expecting a different result. This year, I’m constantly going to remind myself that woe betide me if I trust in the arm of flesh. There’s a time and place for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, I choose to entrust God with the time between those events. This year, I’m going to double down on the truth that silence can be golden, ‘if only a fool could his lips sealed….’ he and she would have a sterling career in the undercover world.
I can’t go back and fix the past, neither can I go to the future and set it up just the way I want (tried that and got knocked from grace to grass) however, what I will do, is to make each day count for something. I may be beleaguered on all sides but I will not stop to contemplate calling it quits, rather I’ll strive to ensure that I’m on the right side and make these words into a mantra; ‘MANY are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver him and her from them ALL!’ That’s how I choose to start this year and I’m inexorably convinced that this will be my best year yet. Sneer all you want, when you want, just be kindly reminded that there’s a spot at my banquet that’s reserved for you.
Remember, even if everyone gives up on you, it changes nothing until you give up on yourself. Enjoy your rest, Temi, till we meet to part no more!
עד שניפגש שוב, מי יתן והפנים שלו ימשיכו לזרוח עלינו לטובה!