Lasso’ing Sleep…..

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Lassoing Sleep

There will be always those days when it seems like this journey will overwhelm and crush me and in those times, knowing that there are people who are going through similar trials is always a much needed boost. In the last 8 weeks, I have been divinely privileged to have become a member of so many support groups, and just the realization that you can be yourself amongst others without the looks of derision, pity or disgust is quite profound. Acknowledging that for every thinly concealed nonchalance, there is a friend who knows what you are going through. And when you see a request for prayers from a new friend, it is not a gesture for fame or recognition, but a sincere request from someone who is going through torrid times.   With the medical capes of Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Dystonia, MS, Parkinson’s Disease and similar villains associated with the neurological system casting shadows, you can truly appreciate the warmth associated with being in a group of defiant individuals.

One of the support groups I belong to is aptly named ‘PD Night Owls’ because there is one common denominator with all these vicious medical conditions and that is the inability of the body to get its much needed rest. In addition to the ravages being wrecked on my body as a whole and the adverse influence it can have on my social life and activities, I still have to confront those little horrors that come with such conditions. Just like the mythical Peter Pan, I will claim my own shadow someday, (because the shadows of these villains just seek to further highlight mine) even if it requires patience, endurance and skilled needle work. As a child, one of my fond memories is darting around with friends trying to escape been tagged or trying to tag someone else depending on what your role in the game was. With the passage of time however, all the fun associated with that game is stored away as cherished memories even as I attempt to dole out some much needed discipline to a little rascal termed ‘Insomnia‘. The futility of playing that game in present times is more than just age-inappropriate, rather it is one where the odds are so unfairly stacked against me that it would be foolhardy to even contemplate it.

Even with a plate already over laden with all these nasty medical challenges,  insomnia finds a way of converting itself into a sauce that trickles through, further tainting the package with extra foul taste. Ideally, life is a series of decisions and choices and so instead of partaking in an unfair game, I choose to witness the birth of every new day. Again perspective plays a significant role, because perspective is a result of a choice being expressed and so I do not detest the approaching darkness of twilight signifying the end of a day or envy the stillness of the dawning that marks the beginning of a new day. Instead I count myself blessed that I am able to witness the birth of every new day, that is a choice I make, instead of devoting energy towards battling a foe that acts as the reconnaissance agent of a massive horde. I have learned that it is better to study your foe(s) for any signs or weakness and when you do find one, not to let a moment pass by without any action from me. Alternatively, I re-access my armoury, evaluate my relationships/allies and utilize what I have even if it requires a little bit of tweaking.

Most battles are won through the application of wisdom rather than just sheer brawn, and so instead of engaging with insomnia every day, I have learned ways to circumvent participating in a seriously skewed game. It is no longer rocket science that the body as a dynamic system requires a minimum of 8 hours of sleep to enable it reset and be ready for the next day. In recognition of that, what do you do to a body that is thoroughly exhausted and in need of sleep? When the habits inculcated in earlier years of running around in a Ferris wheel, have now turned around to nip you in the derrière. I try to lighten the situation by explaining that the brain is such an amazing creation, and so like a commander in charge on the battle field (safe and secure in the skull); it is still strategising, processing, sending out signals and assigning tasks to a neurological system that is almost buckling beneath the onslaught of neurological disorders. And in a bid to prevent a total collapse of this structure I call my body, I must find a way of reining in this magnificent commander lest in its efficiency, it pushes the body way past its limit.

A warrior in the heat of battle is confronted with two choices; live or die, and inadvertently the choice for life must be backed by commensurate actions or else death would gladly swoop in, ever ready like the vulture circling above patiently waiting for road kill. There is always the option of taking a short cut but again the ignorant will find that short cuts are never the fastest or the safest, and so we realize that depending solely on medication usually has a predictable route. With every dose, the body responds by building a resistance to that dose with time, and so we increase the dosage or switch medication. However, just like the fool belatedly realizes the folly of his ways, more often we belatedly realize the folly of borrowing an hour or two from Sleep time in order to accommodate that last meeting, finish up that work task that could not be left in the office or just tidy up that little assignment that is tied to a deadline that is usually unfeasible. There is no reward that can be obtained from cutting off your nose to enhance the beauty of your face, because if we do not adequately cater to the needs of our bodies, someday just like the Merchant of Venice, that pound of flesh must be required as payback. Contentment is not weakness, it will always be at conflict with the inordinate ambitions that characterize today’s world but it is an inseparable companion in the pursuit of noble aspirations.

Just like the daily battle with insomnia, there is the constant need to keep that tricky balance between living healthy and taking proper care of the body. For me, that balance is key because any slight external influence will not only destroy the balance but the chronic pain associated with daily living would assume proportions frightening to even conceive. You do not have to be sick to appreciate health, and so the same scenario plays out in lives everywhere: feign wisdom and take from tomorrow to assuage today’s needs. Most of us are undeniably guilty of that crime and inevitably the pretentious wisdom we applied will someday be revealed in all its entirety as sheer folly.  For every ill-advised action we take today, there will be the corresponding consequences tomorrow and it is not foolishness to be different. Sometimes we are placed in situations that did not require any input from us but to triumph in those circumstances, we need not embark on actions that are immediately associated with thought process of a child. There has to be an acknowledgement of what is real to enable us choose what we know the finality to be.

There is still time each day for that last valiant charge, a charge that has its distinct base in an unflinching faith in a Sovereign God and Commander. A charge that is not dictated by the size of this ragtag army but rather dictated by the promise of a sure victory ahead. And so, I will emerge from the trench – besmirched with dried mud, eyes red-rimmed, joints aching and clad in what barely amounts to a decent garment. With all the air in my tired lungs, my bugle will ring out across the mountains for just one final time today, notes marking the last valiant charge. Conveying in very clear notes to the foes arrayed all around that there will be no conceding victory today, there will be no terms of surrender and even if I have to be borne on my shield; I will seize that victory that is sure. There will be no ambiguity in my proclamation, ‘dystonia, there is no victory for you today and though you rave and rant as much as you want, there is no victory today, tomorrow or for as long as the battle rages.’

A charge more valiant than yesterday’s, my colors loftily raised in victory, a determination in the cadence of marching feet, there will be a prisoner of war but rest assured that it will not be from my ranks.

For just as your ranks ripple with number, and your fancy capes adorn you, so will they disperse in defeat, heads bowed in defeat, victory snatched.

To friends and allies alike, there is yet hope renewed and though the war be far from over, our anthem booms loud and clear, there is no giving up – not today, not tomorrow for as surely as the sun rises from the East, none will fall by the way because we depend not on the strength of men.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

Flintlock, stone and barrel…

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Image result for flintlock pistol

“The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Geez! This has me reeling from so many emotions however I presume its the inevitable result of not doing something in a long while and it kind of reminds me of the phrase “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was over 6 months ago….”. Now this is less a confession but more of a sharing of my experiences and utilizing the experiences garnered during various encounters to first of all hoist myself up (just incase I have slipped down little bit) and then at least one other person who really needs this.

Its more like beginning another phase as I write this post because it truly is the end of one phase, prelude to the beginning of another. Am I truly grateful and blessed for this concluding phase? A definite and resounding yes, because I have been given the priviledge of meeting varying individuals for varying amounts of time and simply just trying to learn more than I know and when possible, letting another person know what makes me stand out. Am I completely free of Myoclonus? No however I still stand by my choice and bullishness not to give in to some disorder as I make each day on this personal journey count for something. Medical conditions are just that – they are conditions and not the manual for your life or who you want to be.

I spent a couple of days in San Diego, California and there I was opportuned to actually get to see and hold a flintlock and sure it was part of a priced collection owned by an artist whose ancestor was one of those real men back in the days. Days where boys grew to become men and lived as men, confronting life and its challenges head on without flinching. Men who understood instinctively what terms like family, parenthood, moral virtues stood for. Men who aged gracefully even as the threads of their lives unravelled as will ours as we approach our destination. So much has taken place that have been so significant that it drives home the fact that not only are we living in the last days of this world but that every little gesture made from a sincere compassionate heart reverbrates thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion…..these are virtues that are rapidly becoming extinct even as we all whole-heartedly apply ourselves to making a living as against just living life and learning.

One remarkable thing about the flintlock is how powerful a little spark can be, and when applied at the right time, the results were astounding (pretty sure whoever stood at the other end of the barrel back in its days will so emphatically concur). Now, one statement I read has stuck in my memory and even though it was used in the context of driving but I do say that it applies to life in itself……‘be a pebble in a rapidly flowing stream’….and that I dare say is not too difficult to imagine. We are all created equal but we definitely do not end up as equals and the difference is  in the choices we each have made and get to make each and every day. Do we choose to live in the past (allowing the experiences of the past so cloyingly overwhelm us that we limit ourselves) or do we learn from the past so as to create our own future because that is what our hands and hearts are for.

Undeniably, the flintlock is the past but it played its vital role in the world we live in today and even though it is more relic than relevant but the point is that it played its role. I have come across individuals who are yet to determine who they are, least of all applying themselves and my question usually is ‘how many versions of you actually exist (updated or obsolete)?’ And this question usually goes to drive home my bewilderment in how some just choose to do nothing with their lives. In our own little worlds, we can at least be the stone that strikes the flint. We can choose today to resist the clamour and popular option of being nobody in today’s world or put aside all vestiges of complacency and just do something. Fail if you must because in failing, at least you have learnt one way not to do what you just attempted. There is no better art than attempt because opportunities of all kinds assail us everyday and whilst we refuse to do a thing, the opportunity passes and most times, we unfortunately do not get to see it again.

No better person than Thomas Edison in recent history could have put it better; “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Take a shot or a swing at life, and if you miss, try it again because life in itself is a journey that we all must undertake and we are going to be remembered for our indifference or for our efforts. I honestly do not keep count of the things I regret not doing but I do look forward to keeping a consistent effort in making my life something I would be proud of in retrospect. Notwithstanding the limitations of this frail body, there is more in life that we can by just doing something (and I do want to emphasise – do something that is right). Regardless of how numbered our days, we each have something to bring to the table but first of all we must find it lest we have nothing to give. There is much joy in giving freely anyway….

There will definitely be storms (that’s one characteristic of life) but those storms help shape us especially when we realise that our own strength is puny by itself, and His strength is there just for the asking. As the water flows past the pebble, and weathering occurs – realise that no matter how smooth that pebble becomes, it is still capable of igniting a fire when used properly. Take a look around you and see that hurting person close by, and realise that nothing happens by chance. You are where you are for a reason, understand the reason and do something at that moment in time and place. Empathy is not a synonym for weakness but it is an attribute of humanity. Let us not give into the craziness that is so rapidly engulfing us but be a light in the darkness….in two words; BE DIFFERENT!

Remember “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” ~ Elbert Hubbard. May the sunlight illuminate your paths and fair winds greet your sail because you are never alone.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות!

Adios!