Amidst the wreckage….

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T Boned

A couple of weeks ago, my truck (Eduardo) got T boned! A beautiful Tuesday morning it sure was shaping up to be because that is always my default choice every morning and then suddenly things went south – as I stood amidst the wreckage, thankful there were no injuries and listening to the T boner apologize, I realized that my perspective has changed. Some people wake up, pick up their car keys, get into their vehicles and go looking for an accident to cause – Scott profusely reiterated the almost pervasive fact that nobody gets on the freeway hoping to cause an accident. I mean I accepted his apologies but I kind of know a little more having lived more than he has that that is not entirely the case in today’s world – the creepy ones are coming out of the woodwork rather faster than people imagine. So, between juggling filing a claim, talking with the responding cop and trying to listen to the tow-truck driver advertise his business, my hands or more precisely my ears were literally full. Having worked law enforcement, the over-riding objective is not trying to understand the context of the law or see a different shade, the emphasis is on enforcing it so to cap it off, there was a citation of $235 as the cherry on the shake.

Now I really cannot do very well in regular vehicles, no thanks to dystonia and so even with the sturdiness of riding in a truck, it simply is also not impervious to damage. Two weeks after the incident, the auto adjuster politely called to ‘walk’ me through the process – a vehicle can only be totaled when the cost of repairs exceed 80% of the current value of the automobile. And so even though it was clearly pointed out to me at the dealership that Eduardo was totaled because the impact was so hard that he deployed all of his airbags, it took my polite auto-adjuster an extra week before he called to tell me that Eduardo was a total loss. Oh and that is where the erratic nature of insurance companies come with talons flashing, after ‘valuation’, I was left with about $10k between the current value of something similar to Eduardo and wherever the valuation company got their comps for. Talk about the frustration of trying to prevent more milk from spilling since you can do little or nothing about what has already been spilled. I took a crash course in dealing with automobile crashes so as not to lose the only leverage I had which was the remains of Eduardo. Thankfully, there are still good people even though sometimes it seems like I am literally in a scene of The Walking Dead and so after turning in the rental provided by the insurance company, I got a car to use whilst trying to absorb the reality of getting another set of wheels.

Now it is no news that I suffer from insomnia and so whenever the frequently asked question pops up, ‘why are you not sleeping?’, my response is biblical – “there is no rest for the wicked!” and so insomnia for me is kind of like an added responsibility because someone has to watch over the wicked. “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” and “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet. And its waters toss up refuse and mud.” Now I know God does not need me volunteering but it is my own way of seeing a pro for insomnia. Life undeterred continues, bringing in its wake, a more than fair share of turbulent seasons because just when it seems like my plate is too full to take anymore, I get blindsided by something that I think I am completely unprepared for however the beauty of life is in the fact that I alone get the singularly distinct option of choosing so I choose not to allow the demise of Eduardo become a stressor. I’m no newbie and statistically speaking, it takes an average of 4 years to earn a degree, I am in my 9th year with dystonia and myoclonus so that puts me more of a graduate consultant in the school of hard knocks.

Act Now!

With all this going on, I had the privilege of having my younger brother visit me, he chose to visit me (it has been about 5years since I last saw him) and so there was some cheer after all and having never seen me having a dystonic episode, I know we did have a wonderful time together. I actually for the first time since dystonia invaded my world, felt like I truly belonged to a family (one that I was born into without any cognizance to my view or option). He actually celebrated his birthday in my home and I may not authoritatively categorize sleeping on an air mattress and being woken up on his birthday with a chocolate garnish cake and the happy birthday song as being out of this world but then that’s where I have learned that we just need to do what we must do and let God handle the rest. I overheard him telling his incessant callers that that was probably the best birthday celebration he had ever had. A simple gesture from me meant a ton of joy to him! Now this is where I want to do a deep dive into some fundamental principles on which I try to live my life by.

“One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor.” Those are not my words in any way, that right there is truth without any fanfare – no glazing, no sprinklings, no whipped cream. What truly strikes me about this is that there is absolutely no mention of status, meaning that there is no further elaboration of who had more to give – it just speaks about 2 men and the choices they make and then the resultant consequence of their choices. Now another startling and somewhat scary truth is in the choice of the latter – he withheld what is right! At certain times, I come up with phrases that keep me going and this right here is one, “As long as God allows you see a need then it means that you are thoroughly equipped to do something about that need– Redz_CC. I try my hardest to make each day count for something and that means down to the moments of every day I live and so even though I have a couple of academic (&theological?) degrees to my name, it means squat when it comes to life and the privilege of encountering lives as we journey along. Sometimes I realize that simplicity can become overwhelmingly complex when we refuse to just accept the simple. We are all creatures of purpose – we identify, execute and then move on to the next task.

Whenever I see a need, I am with something that fits that need and if I choose to withhold it for a myriad of reasons (it could make a worthy post on its own), I am undercutting myself because borrowing a few words from Dido, ‘Nothing I have is truly mine!’ and so the question of to give or not to give should not arise because it spells it clear as day, poverty will overwhelm when I refuse to address a need because I am withholding what is right. Again, I want to be careful when I say withhold – money answers all things but money cannot get you joy, it can buy you praise singers but absolutely no friends, It can build you a mansion but it cannot give you the companionship that we all need as human beings – just one of the many billions inhabiting the earth. And so I ask myself what is the wiser option? Giving up what isn’t mine to gain what is mine or withholding what isn’t mine only to lose on all fronts, an academic degree is not needed to answer that. Whilst conversing with my brother, I told him that perception can be easy to make from afar but usually it is wrong, he got a ringside seat for that exhibition. An African proverb says, ‘that which you seek in distant lands is actually resting within the confines of your garment’ it just boils down to ignorance versus knowledge.

I dare you to remember this, “We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives…Some lessons are painful, some are painless…but all are priceless” – Knot Known

עד שניפגש שוב, מי ייתן וcountenace יזרח לטובה עליך!

Adios!

Leaving Footprints…….

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leaving footprints

Footprints…

You must stick to your convictions, but be ready to abandon your assumptions’ – Denis Waitley. What are your convictions?

Phew! It has indeed been a long period of re-evaluation,reminiscing, re-education etc Every new day should truly be treated as though it may be your last because, hey! it could be. Over the last 4 weeks at The Wood, we have been looking at the subject of ‘What kind of footprints are you leaving behind?’ and I remember experiencing my first snowfall (ironically I stayed up all night because the forecast was for sometime in the wee hours of the morning), sneaking out of the house in my new pair of snow boots and just taking a walk in the snow – funny that right now, I for one could do with some snow. Oh my, the excitement of seeing the footprints I left behind; and it strikes me how funny it is that regardless of enthusiasm or the passion to learn something new, we are all leaving footprints behind. Life in itself is a journey that we all must must make.

One story strikes a chord within me – the story tells of a man who felt he had gotten the short end of the straw, and as the days went past, he had become a constant fixture at the local tavern in his misconceived notion of drowning out the woes of life. Ignoring his family, he would make a beeline for the tavern from the coal mine and most times, he never recollected how he made it home. Many who had tried to intervene felt it was a thankless task and so he usually was left alone. Until one ordinary evening in winter as he made his usual trip to the tavern, he heard some noise behind him and needless to say that curiosity got the better of him. Turning around, he saw his young son all bundled up in his little winter clothing, with head bent and face all screwed up in concentration, walking towards him – each tiny stride in the deep snow made with such an effort that he could not help but call out to his son. On hearing his father call out his name, the little boy lifted up his head and stretched out on his tiny face was this huge beam of excitement, accomplishment and satisfaction. “Daddy, see me! I am following in your footprints”….. With tears coursing down his bearded face, the father wordlessly reached out and lifted the little boy into his arms and that was the very last time he was seen at the tavern or with liquor.

Even as I write, I know that this story resonates within you. Many of us unwittingly choose to forget what we have in the face of life’s harsh lessons, huge mistake!  Sometimes we get so carried away with our ‘problems’ that we fail to realize that we are headed in a particular direction and even if we are so consumed by the situation or present circumstances, one thing is inevitable – our destination and direction is always marked by our footprints. We may have become so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in, that curiosity does not even get the better of us anymore and so we fail to realize and acknowledge that someone could very well be following in our footprints. I recall learning the importance of leaving good footprints in the sands of time as a freshman in high school, and through weekly recitals at the very least, the words of that beautiful poem (A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) are ingrained in my heart (specifically the 7th verse)….

‘Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
 And, departing, leave behind us
 Footprints on the sands of time’

Does this memory alone stand out so much that it has become a barrier that cannot be breached by the mistakes and errors that we are oft to make? The answer is a definite No! Over the years, it has lost the status of just being a recital of words for me but has gradually metamorphosed into a conviction. The knowledge, acceptance and constant meditation on the fact that my identity has become ensconced in the Identity and Will of a Loving Creator has evoked the transformation of those long learned words into a living part of who I am today. Do the limitations of my earthly body, frail in itself change the truth that I am also leaving footprints? Do the unrelenting battles with a rare medical condition deprive me of my footprints? In all earnestness, my footprints are even more obvious and distinct with my staff.

As each day, newly birthed, is presented to me – I make the choice that regardless of whether I have a million followers or none at all, I choose to leave behind footprints that lead to a destination where hope, love, joy, grace and peace abound. The going has definitely had its share of hard knocks and will still experience some more but the choices I make today have their consequences in my tomorrow, so like any blessed person (we all are, even if we do not acknowledge them), I have realigned priorities and trudge on strengthened by the hope that someone after me will have a less wearying journey. That is all there is to life – what have you done for that person whom you may never meet to make their own journey better? Are we all wrapped up in the self delusion that life is all about what I can get from it? The very fact that you are where you are today is a result of someone else’s sacrifices – your parents, teachers, friends (of-course the good ones) and what an awful shame it will be that we spurn these sacrifices in a foolish attempt to assuage our own selfish needs.

My father always repeats these words ‘no man is an island‘, and putting that phrase in conjunction with the undeniable fact that there is just one of you in the entire universe with a unique gift, talent, skill – just maybe then we are able to catch a glimpse of the big picture. We all have been created for a purpose, and that purpose will always intersect with some other person’s and how shameful it will be when and if our spot at that very significant moment is glaringly absent and empty. Today, we can do something! Disregard how insignificant it might seem to you, I can wholeheartedly assure you that it is very significant to someone else. Or have you been repeatedly kicked down and are on the verge of ‘doing no more for nobody’? Or you might already have made that selfish decision, just remember that you are where you are because Some-One loved you so much that He willingly gave His all for you, in addition to the countless unknown and un-celebrated individuals whose footprints you have followed.

Get out of that rut (even if it has become very comfortable), self constructed or not, and do something that today and even in hindsight will be truly beneficial to someone else. You can begin leaving good footprints today, it is never too late to begin again. And whilst you are at it, remember “Love sought is good but given unsought is better!” – William Shakespeare

ייתכןשהרוחות תמיד תהיה לטובתך עד שנפגשנו שוב!

Adios!