The Way of the Orchid……


Permit me to say that I have not been as available here as I am wont, not by personal choice but by the weight of events that have suddenly all come together all at once, not excluding the bad bout of flu that I had to wrestle through and overcome. I mean, bring it on! Not to sound blase in my remarks, I say that it has indeed been a wonderful week as usual, characterized by the unpredictability of Myoclonus, I have had my share of good and bad days. Barely had an hour’s sleep in 72 hours and entertained the gawking stares of the unenlightened, the passing on of friends and ‘friends’ and the beauty of meeting unique individuals who in their own little way within those few moments, injected some extra zest to the beauty of my unique personal challenges.

I have learnt to “Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you” – R. Ogunlaru and I give special mention to Siham (insha Allah! we’ll meet again), Mary – my own distinct Winnie with her boisterous desire to be by my side as much as possible and my guardian angel who despite the sutures from the operation on her thumb was so reluctant to let me out of her sight. When you give, you receive much more than you have given but for each of you – know that my life would be incomplete without you. And with every passing day that I am blessed to live, I commit to passing on every good deed I receive and burying the bad because hey! the world is already sorrowful enough so why choose to add more when all that is really needed is just that little gesture of kindness to just that one person. Despite the crunching setbacks of huge medical bills, I still choose to enjoy the times I have with my various therapists (Igor, Vas and Richie) because I am convinced that there is always a choice to make and I thank you all for making every new day just a bit more bearable.

Phew! I guess that is what happens when you keep so much bottled up inside that instead of a calculated trickle, there is a gush of all that you had wanted to say but have been unable to.

I love orchids! I recall back in the days, how quickly they could transform an environment both with its fragrance and the beauty of its floral arrangement. And today I still count orchids as one of my favorite flowers, I can still recall plucking off many a flower just to enjoy the sweet nectar contained within.  And then I grew up,……… and fell in love with biology. Now not only did I find a subject that was fun but this was one that allowed me to improve on my drawing (lots of beautiful pictures in the textbooks) but it suddenly explained more of the mysteries that I had come to fruitlessly ponder upon.  Learning about life and the whys have always been a thing for me but I drew the line at going into medicine (it just never appealed to me), now although because of my preferred choice of career, I had to drop biology but it still remains a subject of beauty and allure. I learnt about flowers and got to know more about my favorite orchids.

The orchid can be found in almost every continent but one of the amazing things about is this – because of an absence of an endosperm (sorry this is no biology class), in the course of pollination, it has to enter into a funny relationship with a type of fungi (gross!!!) and guess what? these fungi provide the necessary nutrients needed to germinate so that all species of orchids are reliant upon fungi to complete their life-cycles. Now the irony of this concise biology lesson is to draw an analogy that most of us have to face as individuals – were the orchid to be given an option, I am definite that getting involved with fungi would be the least of her choices however we are all subjects of creation and each of us has a distinct path to walk either by acceptance and choice or by compulsion and a higher authority. As I contemplate the past two years struggling with Myoclonus Dystonia, I realize that certain events in our lives are there to ensure that we walk our distinct paths and fulfill our unique purposes. Now, nobody in his or her right senses would opt for some pain or discomfort but what happens when we are thrust into a maelstrom of events that seem to have the singular objective of crippling us, shaking us and turning our little ideal worlds the wrong way up? Do we throw up our hands and let go of the towel or simply roll over and play possum?

The answer is a choice to make however life has a weird way of bringing out the best of us when we encounter some degree of discomfort, let us recall that we are creations of pleasure for a God who truly loves like nobody ever can.  Would it therefore be right to rile and wave our puny fists in His face when we are borne upon the winds, isolated and alone, tossed to and fro by the waves of life, to be deposited in a strange environment just for the sake of being reborn and reformed? For every orchid flower you see, pause and admire it but remember that there is the process behind it that has resulted in it becoming the epitome of beauty that it is. When we, like seeds are in the dark ground, torn away from the shelter and comfort of the world we were born into or we painstakingly created, devoid of companionship (like we were used to) instead of curling up into a ball and dying – let us appreciate that within and around us a chain of events are already set in motion to sustain us through those dark and dreary moments. The nutrients we need to stay alive are inexhaustible and inexplicably geared towards that purpose, the darkness of those early moments are soon to be pierced though by the warm ray of hope and light. We are seemingly unable to fend off the predators that bear fiercely down upon us, through the myriad of pains, twisted joints, trembling muscles, a neurological system that seems to have gone haywire and it sure seems that we have been wrongly created to suffer for no just course. And yet, we are not wholly consumed, for within our tired bodies and palpitating hearts still flickers life and with life, a hope to be chosen.

It may seem like we are all alone but there is never any vacuum in life if only we can choose to drag our eyes and attention from the claustrophobic dankness around us and acknowledge that as long as we yet live, we can choose to hope and dream because just like the little shoot that breaks through the ground, someday it will all be over and then we can truly realize that not only does death exist in life but more importantly life exists in death. As we die to the many comforts and perks that we had gotten used to, let us also realize that birthing and character development is a process and through the pangs of pain and discomfort, insomnia and the jerks, loss of movement in our limbs and a lack of control over our system – a process is being played out and the end is as certain as the sun rise every day. We are not alone through all this, He is working all things together for our good as long as we are totally reliant on Him. Not the ‘friends’ who have walked away from you in derision or the siblings who have prioritized every other thing above you, not the ones who love only in words and cannot find the actions to back it with, not the birds of carrion who circle in futility above you or the hyenas prowling around – definitely not these, but above and beyond them all is the fact that we are creatures of destiny and our destiny and purpose are charted towards good course as long as you give in totally to the One in charge.

There is nothing wrong with the world and its occupants, filled it may seem with a multitude of uncaring souls, just realize that “All true friendliness begins with fire and food and drink and the recognition of rain or frost. …Each human soul has in a sense to enact for itself the gigantic humility of the Incarnation. Every man must descend into the flesh to meet mankind.” – G.K Chesterton.  We are still part of this world and we can make that difference if we choose to, trusting and completely reliant on the truth that we are no freaks of nature but unique beings created and watched over with love by Him. And as we approach each day, unsure of what it may bring, let us also realize that we can make a difference if we choose to and completely astound the multitude of nonchalant and indifferent witnesses that are eagerly gathered around us because we can and because we understand;  A higher calling, A setting apart, A distinct purpose and mission……

“Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your talent and skill and work hard at…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” – D. Nicholls.  Arguably, many might ask where the chances are but do well to remember that we do not control the chances but we do control our choices and so endeavor to make those choices count. Live in the knowledge of the truth that life consists of moments and whilst we cannot recreate past moments or create future moments, we can make use of this moment so make the now count and then you can be sure to cherish it even when it is long gone and past.

Remember this “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” –  J.H ‘Groucho’ Marx. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34”
lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו


Digging In……


It sure feels good to be recalled back into relief duty (as active as I can muster up on the day of assignment) and it really cannot have come at a more opportune time especially coming on the heels of the last medical consultation I had with a so-called medical expert supposedly well versed in this field but who is clearly unable to bend down and lace her own shoes. Even as I waited with bated breath, watching the minutes count down in my eagerness to close that chapter, I could not help but remind myself that for as long as we live, the best helping hands you will ever get are right there at the ends of your own arm. I look around with unfeigned disgust at the path many of us have taken, choosing to base our life choices at the behest of some person who knows no more than you can tell him. There is no end to knowledge and…” be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” – Sol. We can never rewrite the story of humanity and its creation, there is one source and one end.

It still beats me hollow at the insensitivity of man to the sufferings and agony of those around them whilst dwelling on their own selfish need for self-aggrandizement and for them, that is enough driving force however no matter how long you choose to bury your head in the sand, that is just what you will be – An orifice for the sands of time as time blows past you, covering whatever feeble tracks you may have hitherto laid. One truth has withstood the test of time, that truth has empowered generations past and given them the opportunity to seize and bequeath the legacies, many so limply take for granted today. That truth is WE CAN CHOOSE! Despite your admissions of helplessness and dependence, that truth still stands against you – what then will your course of action be? I look around and behold many who have chosen to bury their heads in the sand but remember just like the flotsam carried around by the waves, someday you will be deposited on some forlorn shore with nobody even recognising that you ever existed.

I recall with some degree of nostalgia, the lives of those who have soldiered through life, battling courageously against the health challenges that seemingly buffeted them on all sides. Many, today, stand victorious behind the shroud confident of the fact that to every season, there is a beginning and an end. And for those who have made the right choices, your end is sure and certain – for it is all working together for your good. I evaluate the relationships I have participated in, just like the sheep differs from the goat, so many of these relationships have come and just like the proverbial house built on sand, they stand crumbled with nothing worthy upholding them. And yet still a few stand, and many more are still being forged even now. I recall the conversations I have had with friends, the sheer horrors and experiences received at the hands of people they called friends and I ask, who gives man the right to seek his own pleasure at the detriment of another. I am still standing, not by any measure of my own strength but BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN MADE FOR A PURPOSE.

“Man has a choice and it’s a choice that makes him a man.” – John Steinbeck. How many of us have so eagerly given up that God-given ability to choose and have instead chosen to dwell their hopes on the utterances of  others. What makes another better than you? It is by your desire to cast away your ability to choose, and defer instead to another. I read about diverse solutions proffered that are so eagerly grabbed without taking cognizance of the fact that you can make your own path, by choice. I am appalled at the weakness of our generation as we like sheep without shepherd mill around with no direction, counting and hoping instead that somebody else will make a better plan for our lives. For in the words of Thomas Carlyle “The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Undaunted by what life tosses at you,we just have to keep on jostling and being jostled because like every farmer knows, taking the roughest road with your harvest of potatoes is the best way to categorize your harvest – the best of us rising to the top and the least sinking beneath in their inability to make their own choices and take a stand.

As I pour out my heart on this page, I acknowledge that sometimes, we just have to admit that we are on our own and the moment we can rise above the gloominess of that circumstance, the rays of light like the javelin will pierce through our gloom and cause the long sought illumination to become a reality. Whatever things you have unconsciously surrendered to, this is a call to shake off those shackles, dig in and birth the jewel within you. Nothing of value lies on the surface, deep down within each and every one of us, even as we are assailed on all sides by the insensitivity of man and the trials of life, there is something of inestimable value which nobody can take from us. Let go off all the past hurts and resentments, the betrayals and shallow mindedness of those who failed to recognise us for who we are and stand straight and tall. For as we do that, our weather-beaten brows scarred by these medical challenges, then we can truly utilise our helping hands and dig in to reveal the beauty of who we are meant to be. There can be no song without a story, no ballad without a tale but in all of these – nothing is closer to the truth than this……..It is in our hands, not another’s!

I have known huge financial burdens, some days seemingly overwhelming and clutched straws in expectation of the hands of others. I have walked through emotional and physical traumas, and yet I still stand. Regardless of the cowardice of those whom I once called friends, today I have made better ones and despite the bills and uncertainty of what tomorrow may hold, I choose to make the best of what I have today. For in giving, I receive. In assisting others, I get the urge and strength to plow on knowing that no matter how long the tunnel is, there is light at the end and though I stumble and fall from the sheer weight of this burden, I will yet pick myself up and soldier on. Digging in and making use of that which has been unerringly placed within me for times like this, I have made my choice, and that I stand by be it in isolation or not because I know that the less travelled path is usually the most difficult but the end in itself is a victory.

Remember this fact, we were made to live and not exist.



Lending a Hand…….


It has been such a sunny summer that I am toying with the idea of getting an air-conditioning unit off Gumtree as soon as the funds avail themselves anyway (Opportunity cost). Anyway, yes – nice UV rays, some warmth and basically loads of activities as usual. I have been inundated with messages from quite a few distinct persona and yes, in the words of Jim Elliot “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”. I would count myself no fool because according to my pa, I have done only two foolish things in my life, and these occurred in the last two decades of my life so count me no fool. However Jim referred to the invaluable and essentials of this life and that for the hereafter, so letting go is therefore a sign of wisdom. Mimi, thanks for being such a unique individual and wonderful mum.

I had a telephone conversation with a long time acquaintance and she regaled me with an intriguing story which I would kindly want to share here because in more ways than one, we are all faced with this issue of making a choice of what to let go and this encapsulates a whole lot of things – our ideals, ego, material goods et al. So here goes, a youngster was walking along the edge of a marshy swamp when he espied a crab struggling to make its way out of its marshy snare and out of fascination, he spent some time watching it make effort upon effort to get out and like many a kind-hearted soul, he chose to aid the poor creature out of its obvious miseries and so without a thought, he reached out a hand and the result was obvious. With a yelp of pain, he withdrew his hand as the poor crab reached out with its hand to grab his. Not to be put off from his rescue mission, he persisted and with each attempt, his yelp grew louder. After a series of painful attempts, he plunked down by the spot utterly confused until an elderly man came by.

The greatest bestseller states thus ‘in the multitude of counsel, safety exists’ and so he shared his plight with the elderly man (note however that age and wisdom are not synonymous but this was an exception). With a look of bemusement, the man pointed out to the youngster that his was a worthwhile venture but he failed to recognise that the crab had pincers at the end of its hands and therefore was not intentionally hurting him and so he needed to let go of his original attempt and device another means of reaching the crab without using his fingers. With a burst of adrenaline and a quick shout of gratitude, the youngster broke a tweed and reached out to the tiring crab with the tweed, the rest is left to your imagination. And no, the crab did not turn into a beautiful princess who he married and together lived happily after. It scurried away and the youngster learnt a valuable lesson because life is filled with learning curves and choose to learn we must or else we may not survive when life compels us to.

Now, what was so intriguing about this story is how similar to the youngster many of us are. We are confronted with a situation and without a thought, many of us launch into a good-hearted rescue mission without actually contemplating the complexities of each particular scenario because remember we are a population of billions of unique individuals, each with a different purpose and the ability to choose regardless of whether these choices are right or wrong. (And yet again, there remains a few of us, who choose to do nothing whilst expecting the crab to reach out a hand and then we can help – I hate to do this but WAKE UP!) And like many, we are inadvertently swamped by our ill preparedness and reluctance to acknowledge that life in itself is dynamic and so we ought to admit that change or letting go is oft the best option. Take out the old, so the new can come in. “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” – Steven Covey

Meeting my Specialist pain Physiotherapist was such an enjoyable time because it afforded me yet another opportunity to learn something new and even as I continue down this path of recovery and healing, hope is a choice that I make every waking moment. Hope that each day will present me with another opportunity to meet a new person and hopefully make an impact in that person’s life. Hope that even as I let go of the very things I could do with ease in days past, I create room to learn new things; learning to use my left hand when my right hand is severely hurting with cramps, learning to listen more and speak less because speaking a lot can be quite painful even as my vocal cords get thickened and I start stuttering, learning to just be still because my back hurts so badly and realise that He speaks in every waking moment of my life. Learning that even the consultants are limited in their knowledge and so basing my joy on their report is an exercise in futility.

I met an outstanding individual today, the Chief Executive Officer of Hope For Justice, an organisation devoted to rescuing lives from human trafficking and modern-day slavery. And even as he shared his organisation’s goals and objectives, it reiterated the story of the crab and the fact that we just have to let go of traditional patterns to reach the many unique individuals there who are struggling for hope and justice. The question that begs answering is what are we doing with the time we are all blessed with – “Think about it. Everyone gets the same twenty-four hours in a day. But only a handful realize the value of time. Make sure to utilize your time wisely. Don’t pursue unattainable goals and remain disappointed. Real happiness lies in enjoying every moment of your life, doing what you wish to do. Build your life, minute by minute, with memories of love, kindness, and courage. Reflect on the words of famous people. Understand their perspective about life, and gain new knowledge.” Anon E. Moss

As I look forward to a new week filled with hope and promise and opportunities, I can only tell myself this “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington, and with each waking moment, I appreciate every obstacle this neurological disorder has placed because in overcoming them day after day, I can truly cherish the little triumphs and enjoy the lives that I encounter daily.

And remember………………we were made to live for His pleasure and not just exist.

 פרידהעדשנפגששובחבריםיקרים ….