Not My Way…..

Standard

Dystonia Awareness Month

Hey! We are down to the final third of the year and ironically September has been recognized in the US as Dystonia Awareness Month. What is Dystonia and why should there be an awareness? In no fancy words, it is simply acknowledging that there are more people in this world than you think you know. “Lord, give me the wisdom to differentiate between the things I can change and those i cannot change!” Dystonia falls in the latter category – dredging up words like neurological disease or disorder, rare and incurable, genetics, an overwhelming sense of helplessness, the ridicule of others who think less of you because you ask, the irony of life’s unfairness, the joy of knowing that you are never really alone, the sheer delight of knowing that there’s strength that lies beyond human frailty. That is Dystonia!

I thought I knew pain however the last two weeks have been an orientation in pain – the pain that cripples you and forces you to your knees, bouts upon bouts of excruciating pain, unpredictable and unrelenting as always. Pain that makes you long for the sweet transition from this cold, cold world. That is just an aspect of dystonia; the unwillingness of my body to cooperate with me, the knowledge that life as I thought I knew (and vainly planned for) suddenly transformed in an instant, the inexplicability of my helplessness and the beauty of knowing that despite how much sorrow surrounds me, there is joy not too far away. When the truth dawns that this is just a prelude to an eternity and how I live it regardless of my circumstances defines my destination. A destination that I so long for, and thus empowered by this, I must make each day that I yet draw breath count for something.

I have no regrets! None at all and if the chances were posed to me again, my answer would be, “I would change not a thing because change is inevitable!” It is not the chances we encounter that define us but rather the choices we make and today I make one as i painfully write this, I refuse to let Dystonia define me. Change my circumstances, strip me of my belongings but with fists clenched in pain, I defy you even with the last wisps of breath that i exhale. This has been truly a journey – an unprecedented one to say the least however one that has taught me so much that I know that even when I am knocked down, there is still strength to not just struggle to my feet but to also reach out and help another. It has been a journey that has redefined family, completely changed my perspective on living to love and revealed that none of us knows what strength we either possess or the vast reserves of strength that we have access to.

Love and Giving

This is a journey that has made so much more glaring the exploitative nature of man at his primal core and yet has also shown me that true love is not sought neither is kindness the result of scientific computation. I have learned that life is like the ocean with waves either forging or receding, that shoes are an adornment for feet that we take for granted most times. There will always be that friend who sticks closer than a brother and even at the detriment of his personal satisfaction, is willing to sacrifice just to ease my pain. There will always be those memories engrained forever of events that i would never have imagined – events of so much weight and value but yet thinly veiled by the indifference and nonchalance of many. I can show you my friends if you ask because I call them family, dystonia helping to rip off the veneer and expose the richness of hearts that beat true and strong, and also reveal in stark nudity the ignorance of hearts that are barely beating. I regret not by any whim the process of being constantly forged, every hammer strike at the forge shaping me despite the accompanying pain.

Today, I am grateful for a life lived – the inconvenience of dependency as it struggles with the history of a life surrounded by so much comfort but yet in total lack at the present. Today I celebrate you – for tolerating my ignorance, for keeping me company in times when words were not needed, for your shoulder to cry on but more importantly to lean on. For pressing through the brambles of an ego very brittle and of nought to me, for standing at my gate (respecting a privacy no longer of value) even though my walls are all but crumbling – a city whose beauty once was and will be to come in no short period. For patiently learning even when I thought I had nothing to teach and persevering in teaching me that I will never be alone despite my bullheadedness. For those nights you stayed up whilst I battled insomnia, offering up prayers that I was unaware of. And standing in the gap on my behalf, being a conduit for answers undeniably sent from heaven, I celebrate you. I am here because you cared, listened and did not disobey God’s instructions.

Tonight I am thankful that should the curtains drop, my footprints will be seen and my life’s tale a source of hope and encouragement. That is what I want you to be aware of – that I went down swinging albeit feebly, going by the standards of crowds that mean nothing but a cacophony of discordant noise. Even as the night all but envelopes me, I am thankful that my light wasn’t extinguished by the lazy whisper of a summer night’s breeze. Thank you for not thinking less of me. Thank you for sharing your own struggles even as we journeyed together regardless of how much or how little time we spent together. It will never be about the distance because as long as hearts beat, resonating with kindness and compassion, every second matters.

Remember that I did not do it my own way; could never have done it my own way, but with lives intertwined and paths crossed, mine is a story of triumph amidst the ruins! A tale that would be incomplete without you.

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

Adios!

Gifts, Promises and Thank-yous….

Standard

Staying aglow

So I did promise myself a birthday gift – going out shopping and giving out gifts to others however I’ve not been able to go shopping. I did something worthwhile though considering this will be the 42nd time (ever since I could count) that I get to try and reset, I took a long cold shower (heat triggers dystonic episodes). I would have gone swimming but I’m nursing a shoulder and a back that has been giving out too many notices for me to ignore. I remember the porch light of my neighbor coming on and his concerned question, ‘why are you swimming in the freezing pool? Are you a polar bear?’ I did try to explain but not many have the time to listen and then try and make sense of your reasons so just do you.

It has been nigh on a decade when my journey veered into terrains i had never imagined. And although I do love traveling however this has been more of putting one foot in front of the other rather than taking in the sights and sounds. The shower was quite exhilarating and the concept of beginning this year spanking clean is really quite nice because all the grime and dirt from the past day gets washed away. Time doesn’t stop, it does however give me the opportunity to document this and I’m truly grateful. In a couple of days, we lose an hour as the seasons continue their transition. I have gained a year and in retrospect, I cannot wait to embark on the adventures of this new year.

Notwithstanding that a lot has taken place, I look forward to the future regardless of how long I have got. Nevertheless I am thankful for the gift of a clean slate, a clean body and an open mind. It is the little details, usually taken for granted, that ultimately define us and I know that I am here now because it all fits into a grand scheme of things. None of the party poppers (sic) et al, I am grateful for the comfort of a silent night even as I write. And with nought but a fairly sound mind, a spirit that refuses to be conquered, the wavering light within and the ability to choose, I begin another chapter. A chapter where I can write, amend what errors might come up and basically differentiate between doing what is right and doing what seems to be right (despite the deceptive allure of what seems right)

I am truly grateful for the friends who have stuck with prickly me, glad for the opportunity to meet and interact with new acquaintances but above all, I am thankful for hope that cannot be overwhelmed. The hope that resonates with the washing away of the dirt of past years and the hope that makes me choose responsibly each day. It’s another 365 days and the count is on, I am careful to back off where need be and doggedly push through no matter how exhausted I may be. My prayer is wherever He leads me, may my obedience be borne from a desire to get the best of what He’s got from me and completely yield in every aspect.

Today, I remind myself that both the warmth of the sunshine and the coolness of the twilight are a blessing. So today, I unfurl my sails and pray for fair winds and when the waves turn choppy and rough, I know that there will always be beginnings and endings.

Adios!

The reverberation of silence…..

Standard

Silence!

“Be (known as) a person of persistence and endurance. One person with persistence, commitment and endurance will accomplish more than a thousand people with interest alone.” – J. Mason

When and where we are birthed is not a decision that provides room for our opinions to weigh in. We emerge, most times, angry at the doctor or nurse who swatted our bum while we also vociferously complain at the change in our residing address. That really does nothing to the process of childbirth and/or family building, we eventually get to accept (some of us pretty early and others pretty late) that there are things/events we can change and others that would be a manifestation of sheer naivety and wrongful application of energy were we to attempt changing them. That’s where serenity comes to play, giving us peace to go through those events we have no control over however wisdom is a prerequisite to enable us tell the difference.

I recall my first solo Christian outreach as a University graduate some 16years ago and was it an eye opener indeed. Not only did it satisfy my urge to go to new places but it also made me realize that entitlement is a unique word and not the very best to use in our common, everyday conversations. There I was, in a little village populated by about 100 families who had chosen to question the predominant religion. No schools, no water, no electricity but all around them these same ‘necessities’ were available to others, a reward for their conformity and reliable apprehension at rocking the boat. I juggled having summer classes, learning the language, helping on farms and talking about intangible treasures that are stoutly backed by infallible and unbreakable promises. Talking about streets of gold to someone who had never seen an asphalt road is not just a gigantic stretch in imagination but it also kindles hope, strength of purpose and incomprehensible peace.

Trust is something that is inevitable to life. From the moment you open your eyes to a new day to the moment you shut them at the end is a journey of faith. You unknowingly believe that you will live, you believe the atmosphere can sustain your respiratory system, you believe that your feet will hold you up……you believe without an iota of doubt because that’s what science says. Who made science? There is always a source, an origin if we choose to apply ourselves to searching however there will always be the plethora of unanswered questions that make life more of a mystery than just a monotonous exercise. And those unanswered questions, we believe will be answered someday. That in a nutshell was one of the minor reasons that made me enjoy my stay and plan another visit the next summer.

On the faces of children and adults, I could see contentment and unbridled joy because they chose not to dwell on their lack (they were not anticipating a turn around so soon or the coming of a messiah) but rather focus on The One who holds all of life in His hands. They could relate with that! They could relate with the fact that life in itself is a season, and just like every agricultural community, they understood seasons – every season begins and ends someday. From the starry eyed kids in their worn-out clothing to the fierce gleam of defiance in the eyes of adults, I learned that what we need the most in life is companions that are eager and willing to walk some way with us as we journey through life. And not just any company but the distinct few who walk in agreement with us, come rain or scorching heat. I learned the beauty of silence, not the silence of indifference and nonchalance, but the silence that brings the realization of our existence as humans devoid of all the frenzy of the big cities and wholly dependent on Our Creator.

Like Spinoza says, “no matter how thin a slice is, there will always be two sides.” We may choose to butter both sides and deal with ensuring we don’t get dirt on our faces and clothing or we may choose to be thankful for that slice regardless of the availability of butter or not. I recalled this life changing experience because once again, I’m embarking on something completely foreign to me as I grapple with dystonia. An entirely unprecedented chain of events for those who know me just a bit. However with a life as unique as mine, you develop the knack of ignoring the bumps (& associated pain) from the thrown lemons and focus on making some lemonade. It’s not just trying to survive (a puny task I dare to opine), it is instead recognizing the circumstance and adapting to ensure your purpose is not derailed. The purpose always counts, and what we put in today and tomorrow will always determine if we are striving for excellence or just pretending to enjoy (while cringing internally in absolute terror) the waters as we are hurled along in no direction by the strong currents of life.

…..and you are???

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – MLK Jr. No life can be lived in isolation and although we do not get to pick our families but we do get to pick our friends, and yet again we believe that most of them will be there for the long haul despite the occasional squabbles. The journey we all embark on will have its fair share of storms, and sometimes during those storms, what we crave the most from our friends is not just a deluge of words alone but sometimes that walm hand that is quietly slipped into your hand, reassuring you that you are not alone. So many times, we are so unsettled by the silence that we fail to see and appreciate how consistent and little our true friends are. Their actions are not preceded by a definitely not-so eloquent speech or a forwarded ‘do not break the chain’ prayer (insincere and bothersome). True friends are found in the silence.

However there will be those times when ego has even gone to ground (for fear of identifing with you) and your outstretched hand is completely ignored. It is in those times that silence, if permitted, becomes a complete set of percussion instruments all wailing in discordance. That is when silence becomes a banshee whose voice threatens your peace of mind. It is that silence that cuts the most deeply, leaving a wound that may seemingly never heal. And still, even as the silence reverberates all around you, there is still a choice to be made – give into the insanity that the cruel, intentional silence of friends offer or find that quiet place deep in the recesses of your mind where no hand can touch. Retreat there to ponder on the fact that life is a process and it is the approval and relationship of God that counts the most. On the many occasions when friends align with the enemy through their silence and it becomes nigh impossible to differentiate friend from foe, then you are forced to remind yourself that no man has a plan that makes total provision for you, it is then you just must find Him.

I learned from that first experience, even in the silence, beauty can still exist. When the words from the lips of companions are like the falling of brown leaves, lifeless, insincere and meaningless. When their gestures threaten to extinguish the sliver of light you have because their intent is not to act but to be seen as being active. It is in times like these that I cling fervently to the promises of a good God who is not man that He would dare cast shadow on His Word. I remember that it is not the seeming abundance (just provocatively beyond your grasp) around you that counts but the ability to bask in what you have been blessed with; hope, purpose and a destination, that is what counts when the silence descends on you.

Remember, We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!