Behind the walls….

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https://redzhis.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/Behind the wall

Behind the wall

Photography is a hobby of mine, getting more difficult with this journey I am on, but I learned as a child that a picture is worth a thousand words. Words come easy to some, not on account of the possession of a mouth, lips, vocal cords or hands, I opine that they come easy based on who you are on the inside. Words have always been an essential part of humanity or better put, communication has always been an esssential part of humanity. In war or peace, communication always played a pivotal role. I look around and realise that without words and communication, not much would be the way they are today.  It is therefore not very difficult to surmise that we all use words allbeit in different forms. How we use them is an issue on its own, but the way we use them guarantees either a reaction or a response.

A couple of nights ago, I was telling my daughter about the biblical story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, and when I told her that the walls were so enormous and fortified that chariots could race above those walls. Now we are talking about at least two war horses (noted for their temperament, constitution and loyalty), the chariot (usually constructed from wood with a decoration of some metal filigree) and one adult. Now that there in itself is some weight, by the time you factor in the effects of the force transmitted into the walls by the running hooves, the rotating wheels etc, it is best imagined that those walls were not a foray into construction by some individual who felt bored. They were built to withstand, provide refuge for the inhabitants of the city especially in times of war and also exude a sense of peace as you gained entrance to the city.

This was not what I intended to talk about however, in the light of recent happenings, this has been birthed. Walls signify fortification and with the evolution of dynasties, we still require walls even as individuals for our residences; be they grand or tiny. Breach the walls of someone else, without invitation, and you are bound to suffer the consequences of whatever you encounter behind those wall. I recall my first experience in erecting walls; the walls for the family home built by my parents, I remember the foreman spitting out expletives when the wrong mixture of cement, sand, gravel and water was used. For the ‘security’ walls, the concrete mix differed from what was used for other parts of the building and despite the grumblings of the artisans and workers, they just had to get it right. In order to gain access to the house, you had to first get past the wall and it was so much easier when you were invited in (we have always had guard dogs, as children and when we were still in the nest, set loose at night). Behind those towering walls, there were secrets that could only be guessed by those walking on the outside and therefore in times of conflict, reconnaissance was vital.

As earlier mentioned, photography is a hobby and with time, I realised that I preferred staying behind the camera rather than being the subject of a photo shoot and till this day, my best pictures of people are those taken when they were unaware because it tells you a lot. And so I am of that quaint school of people that believe that man has yet again tinkered with the status quo because there are so many ways of editing pictures that they just come across as unreal and therefore the thousand words are inadvertently influenced to create a story that appeals to the subject. I can remember visiting a studio, just to get some passport photographs and when the passport pictures were given to me, I almost dropped them in shock because he had gone the extra mile of editing away my freckles! This was at least 7 years ago, so the leaps and bounds photo editing has come through is not something I want to even deliberate upon.

As an individual, I believe that words and instrumental music (classical, opera etc) are true expressions of the writer’s hearts and if you attempt to tinker with that then your objective had best be communicated as well. If the objectives are not properly or clearly expressed, not only is that an attempt to mislead but you taint the interpretation. Admittedly, it took quite a prodding before I joined Facebook and the like, however I try to stay true and for years, my Facebook account lacked any pictures of me. The other day, with my daughter going behind the camera, I made a short video of what an episode of dystonia looked like and I posted it on my facebook wall, I am still reeling from the flood of goodwill messages that are still coming through. The most popular comment from people has been been, “I’m so sorry, I never knew this what you were passing through”. I am still stuttering from the number of calls from people who called me after seeing the video. In all honesty, that will go down as one of my first attempts at emerging from behind my wall.

By virtue of the compelling and overwhelming need to conform, many of us have successfully, for years, hidden behind our walls; tucked away securely in our comfort zone reluctant to reveal the truth because the truth is not something that is a crowd pleaser. On the contrary, it actually reveals more that you had wanted to and the interpretation is best left to the recipient. Nobody wants to appear weak and vulnerable because we have become brain washed with notions that vulnerability is a sign of weakness and weakness is something that should be oft despised. What makes us human does not lie in what we have acquired over the years, it is in the everyday gestures and expressions of our hearts carried through on platters of kindness, compassion, hope , trust, faith and love. No matter how much concrete we pour into creating our impenetrable comfort zone, whatever you portray when you want to emerge, is a far cry from who you truly are and that in itself is a deception of gargantuan proportions. In order to deceive others, you first of all have to deceive yourself and rationalising it logically, the person bound to be hurt the most is YOU!

Discernment is a gift that many of us have been blessed with, but few have bothered building it up and developing it with the right nutrients just like we do with our bodies. We have chosen to ignore the needs around us as we journey through, confident in our own self told fact; “it is not my storm” and “if I were in your shoes, this is what I would done”. Can I kindly hush you before you make a bigger mess of yourselves, YOU CAN NEVER KNOW HOW YOU WOULD RESPOND OR REACT IN THAT SITUATION UNTIL YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH SOMETHING SIMILAR. As we saunter down life’s streets, we encounter walls of all kinds – some standing tall, some crumbling and in dire need of attention and some completely broken down. What do we do when we are opportuned to see beyond those walls? What do we do when we come across a broken down wall? Do we join in looting the spoils or we help in rebuilding? Self-control is a trait (scripturally likened to a wall) that we all must have as individuals but when our walls become less of a necessity for us and more of a ‘keeping with the flow’, then it is time to stop and re-evaluate.

Some of us have been so sucker punched by experiences that we lay in the dirt, completely spent, greedily grabbing air into our lungs and watch in dismay as our highly decorated walls fall to bits. We lack the strength to even pull ourselves up but there is a choice to be made here, “get back on your feet, soldier!” or curl up in the dirt and wait for the final curtain drop. I might still be reeling from the annoying attempts of dystonia as it tries in vain to re-define me, but I will rise and with tottering steps, get out from behind my self-built wall because just down the road, there is a city whose walls are fallen in battle and its citizens paralysed by the sheer enormousity of being prisoners of war. There is no joy in being a prisoner and while we are constrained by events that we didn’t choose, we can redefine our priorities and make our lives count for something. This might be that chance to reach in and pull out that gift that you have so selfishly used on yourself and for yourself alone, and instead choose to use it in assisting someone else. I can whole-heartedly assure you that your fears of it running out will not materialise.

True, money answers all things but does it provide all things? And if the answer is a quiet yes muttered beneath our breath then it would make so much sense to apply it to providing channels for those things that cannot be bought. There will never be a perfect life, no dwelling on the mountain top forever and whilst you are basking in the sun, and getting a tan or luxuriating in the freshness of the cool air from the ocean side, remember that the sun will set soon and when the darkness sets in, pray that you do not stumble. Storms will always come, we can do nothing about the size or strength of the storm but the factors that you can influence, please do not hold back. For today, you are able to shelter a wandering stranger as his night engulfs him, tomorrow is a mystery that we can prepare for today by just being human.

Remember “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. My thanks go out to those who in the last few days (and those to come) have with no hesitation accepted me as their friend and brother, especially those who like me have hidden behind the walls of dystonia and Parkinson’s syndrome, know this; Champions can be born great or they can learn greatness. Each of you are champions because as long as you arise each day not knowing whether it is going to be a good day or not, you are making the choice to make your life count for something. No matter how heavy or long a rainstorm lasts, it can never wash off the smile on your face.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

A Jolt in the road……

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.....the jolt changes things!

                                                                        ….the jolt changes things!

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Most times, very significant events are captured by an exclamation of some sorts like the popular ‘Eureka!’ to its being described in some fancy words like ‘the aha! moment’, the aim is ultimately to try and share the clarity of vision received following such an event. For those who like penning down stuff, it’s that thought that takes such a grip on you that the ability to attend to some other task is almost non existent. Expressing it is like the release that you so crave, it rids you of the restlessness of your inner being….that desire to comprehend in some form, the sudden change of events that hitherto had seemed almost perfect – just like we planned????

As a growing kid in a large household complete with 5 siblings, the house helps, relatives, pets and the frequent house guest; it was mandatory to start off the day by attending to the chore that had been assigned to you by the matriarch. One of my earlier chores was cleaning up the master bedroom which also included one of my favourite tasks – making up the bed, and there was something almost soothing in transforming the neatly folded square of bed sheet into the bedcover that spanned the breadth and width of the mattress. Smoothening out every crease, making every tuck as neat as possible, maximum concentration and the quiteness, it was almost like the bed should never be slept in because it appeared so beautiful however that was what I’d have liked as against the very essence of the whole exercise which was to prepare the bed for the next sleep in. That was what the bed was made for, the exercise of dressing it up was just a process to get it to fulfil the purpose for which it was made. If it was not slept in, I guess there would be no need to make it up and then there would be no chore of that sort again. In retrospect, I suppose that task played a role in how I deal with neatness and almost being too particular about how stuff is arranged.

A couple of days ago, I was almost involved in the second rollover in my entire driving history and geez!it is indeed a miracle that it did not happen but it began just like the first one, there was that annoying jolt in an otherwise very smooth road for the last hundreds of miles. It is no testament to how far I’ve come on this journey, banned from driving 5years ago by medical experts due to dystonia but God has sometimes shoved me when I had almost given up on myself, and His grace is so evident in the very fact that I was even behind the wheels. Battling the hesitation from medical experts, turning a deaf ear to the concerns from some that it might be more of a con than a pro because of the stress involved but it’s something I’ve always loved doing (driving and road trips) and just being able to enjoy it again has been such a delight. The last few weeks have all but gone by in a blur and just when it seems like everything was going according to plan (slowly but surely)….. It happened again, I struck that jolt in the road, not because of medical fears but just something that could happen to just about anyone, I swerved to avoid an object! – need I mention how smooth the last hundred miles had been? Now it’s like my very worst fears might be realised, the road trips might come to an end and the prospect was so horrifying some minutes ago….

It’s so weird that in our world today, we are seemingly more comfortable with trusting human opinions or technology made by man when in all sincerity, these things that we are choosing to base our existence upon are creations of our hands and mind you, our knowledge is very limited. We readily turn to Google for the answer to that question that was just thrown at us, and without even stopping to consider, we are ready to run with the answer supplied by Google. Funny enough, there was no Google in high school and I barely relied on it in college but I did succeed (sure it might have made stuff easier but still ….). It is so strange how more often than not, we make the choice to run with what we consider our best plans and get so lost in it that it actually requires that jolt in the road to make us realise how feeble and limited our own attempts at making and living the best plans out are. We so quickly get so drawn into the smoothness of the road that we forget that life is in itself more of a journey than a destination, it is a series of stops and when we allow ourselves to get lost in the smoothness of some portion, we may very well miss the next exit and the entrance to the next and usually better phase of our lives.

As Christians, it is so easy to profess our faith when the going is smooth but guess what, faith is tested by trials and it is during those trials that we have to come to terms with our faith and profess it because we believe even when the situation says otherwise. One of my favourite Scriptural verse is encapsulated in the story of the three young Hebrew boys born and bred in captivity, under the rule of Babylon; what is most compelling is that they stared their own death in the face of the fiery furnace and yet their words whilst depicting the possibility of their own human fallibility strongly proclaimed their faith in God regardless of whether He came through on their behalf or not. It’s become more than just words to me on this journey, I choose to believe that my Creator has the best plans for me because I’m constantly reminded on a daily basis of my limitations (no thanks to Myoclonus). And yes it has taken yet this jolt to bring me around but I’m glad that I have come around to acknowledge that my well being is not defined by how smooth the road has been or will be, but rather it will always be defined by the gradual manifestation of His purpose in my life. I choose to enjoy the moments as they come and not flinch when it ends because as surely as day and night, seasons will begin and end.

Even as the winter winds howl, and the temperature plummets, I am reminded that this is yet another season that has begun on the ends of the previous one. And even though the prospects seem scary, I know that choosing to worship rather than worry will always put me in good stead. We have to make the painful admission that we do not know it all and our best plans pale in comparison to His purpose and plans for us. We have to acknowledge, sometimes painfully too, that He has got us even though it might look like its the isolation of the darkness again. I look back and I acknowledge how far I have come, despite the overwhelming hopelessness of some of those times and I know that the jolt is less of a deterrent but rather more of a prod in the right direction. Understand that you can only encourage yourself in Him when you are all by yourself, alone and sometimes frightened. You can only understand the wisdom of sorrowing times when you truly lose and are sorrowing, the process includes pain and pleasure but its up to you to choose on what you’d rather dwell on. I’ve gotten past the worst times, what else but better times await me ahead. There is no counsel save His that takes preeminence in my life and even though I stand alone in these times, I will stand tall and true because I know He is all things to me. Such comforting reassurance even as I face the uncertainty of tomorrow, I am truly glad for the privileges and opportunities – the opportunity to be differ ent, the opportunity to leave positive impact on the lives I’ve been blessed to encounter, the opportunity to hear people say how inspired they are and above all the opportunity to share my story and watch hope burst into flames in the life of those who had given up and those who almost had.

I can never know it all, that’s impossible but I know who does and with every passing breath (it’s quite visible these times), I choose to defer to His Will and plans because it has and will always be about Him. Nothing else matters more!

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

Adios! Continue reading