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!

Hoping; truth and Realism……..

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hope

Hope unconquerable.

Phew! Without so much of a fuss on the part of anyone, we are already in the third month of the year 2015. Surprisingly the number 3, across several divides and discourse, has some bit of symbolism to it and for me, it is many things – Divine sovereignty, my birth month, my position in the order of siblings, and for a while it was my favorite number. Why? I just loved it or better put, I chose to love it however that would be the subject of another write up hopefully. Borrowing the thoughts of Vera Nazarian; “Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:
1. Acceptance
2. Understanding
3. Appreciation
Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart. Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable. Think about it — do you really want to live in a world of only two dimensions? So, for the love of a triangle, please keep love whole.” 

It has been over 40 days since I put thoughts to word, my sincere apologies to those I have left hanging. The stark truth is we are each made to complement one another and how dreadful it would be if I did not hope and believe that someone somewhere was taking the time to read my thoughts. To you, I say a gracious thank you and pray that your aspirations would dwarf your immediate limitations, if any exist because I speak from the perspective of one who has seen his immediate limitations grow in leaps and bounds. In admitting that, does that deprive me of hope or rob me of the knowledge of truth? Definitely not, I know that I have been created for the long haul and properly equipped at such and perchance when those dark days loom, I also have realized that the resources from which I draw on daily are not and can never be measured by man. I have had everything taken away from me, not by choice in whatever dimension, but I stand today, so much better than I have ever been.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was blessed to be ministered to by the One World Children’s Choir and even as I looked upon the huge smiles and the pure love emanating from their actions – something dark and sinister struggled to shake me off my perch. With a surge of emotions, I recalled how easy it is to feel alone and hopeless but I quickly reminded myself with the truth that there can be no life without hope. How else can anyone begin to explain the chain of events that have uniquely characterized our individual paths through life? What are the indices that reveal the superiority of your life when compared to the next face beside you? As each of the kids went through the routines, obviously practiced but yet seemingly original, I realized that the life we live can and will only be evaluated by the choices we make.

Unknowingly, there is a growing curiosity about the difference between truth and fact. Some school of thought say that truth is subjective while fact is not, others disagree on the grounds that they mean the same thing. I could go on and on however I just want to share my thoughts especially for one who has witnessed both extremes in almost every aspect of life. I opine that both are different – each differentiated by its reference base. For me, truth is simply truth; it is what the Sovereign God says and be you from the North pole or the South pole, there is no higher authority than God. For me, the test is what can you appropriately compare truth with. What people referred to as facts centuries ago have either been slightly amended or completely thrashed however I choose to rely on truth as the only virtue that has the inherent potential and capacity of completely liberating you. Is the truth real? Yes it is. Is it tangible? Now that is bound to be contextual…..

I was privileged to celebrate a new year a couple of days ago, and amidst the outpouring of well wishes, prayers, gifts etc I reminded myself that I could never have made it this far without hope in the truth despite the reality of the situation. it is that hope that births the dreams and aspirations that guide me through the turbulent waters of life. And just like the blinking light atop the light tower, I am guided inexorably by what I have chosen to accept and believe. Regardless of the incessantly changing tides of life, this truth stands out – I am who God says I am and whether I choose to believe it or not, the propensity for hurt is overwhelmingly stacked on the latter. We are blessed, whether we believe it or not yet again, for the sole purpose of blessing others and how ironic would it be for anybody to say that there is nothing each day to be thankful for. This truth trounces every religion and thought process. The follow up question then would be, if we admit that there is something to be thankful for each day then why can we not share that gratitude with someone else. Give and take, Yin and Yang, Life and Death – to everything there is a beginning and an end, an action and reaction, a positive and negative…..

Without us beginning, there would be no end, and then throw in a little high school physics and we might just get stuck in the inevitability of never being able to garner all knowledge. What we do with the little that we have or are given is what determines whether the subject of hope is a reality in itself. We can choose to make our lives as real as possible by giving hope to someone else, because we are, simply because someone gave. We receive only because someone gave. Now I have since acknowledged that riches are not synonymous with happiness, real contentment and joy can only be achieved when we fulfill. Fulfill what? Fulfill that for which you were made, I tell myself every moment that for goodness, kindness etc, it is better late than never. To forgive is divine, but it is humanly to err. To begin again always seems more difficult but do a 360 degree evaluation and you will agree that there must always be a start. For me, each new day is an opportunity to be the hope that someone else so desperately craves and for as long as there is breath in this fragile body, I choose to believe that “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho

I must begin with myself each new day and whether twilight catches me still unfinished, I know that tomorrow will begin with me being better than where I was yesterday.

Remember, the quality of whatever we aspire for or dream of can only be made manifest in the quality of what we give others. We are, because someone gave and regardless of how despondent the circumstances are demanding of you – you still get to choose. Make it count!

עד שנפגש שוב , אני נפרדתי ממךלשלוםוטוב ביותר שאתה לבד ראוי .

Adios!

A glimmer shines through…..

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Seeing the glimmer…

“What is hope but a feeling of optimism, a thought that says things will improve, it won’t always be bleak, there’s a way to rise above the present circumstances. Hope is an internal awareness that you do not have to suffer forever, and that somehow, somewhere there is a remedy for despair that you will come upon if you can only maintain this expectancy in your heart.”- W.W. DYER

What words can best describe how I feel today? Again, sometimes words cannot really suffice but the best I can do is try to share how I feel in the best possible way. It is my birthday today and although I have been awake since 2 a.m however there is nothing that compares to the infusion of life and strength that every day brings and inasmuch as today is kinda special, it is yet another new special day for me. Looking back, I can with more than a wry smile, look at how far I have come through the obstacles and challenges that life has placed in my path….and truly say that if not for God, where would I be? Nothing absolutely compares to the thrill of realizing that I live because I am a creature of purpose and one whose destiny can at best be tampered with but never altered.

I am thrilled by the number of goodwill messages that are coming my way and as every one unique in its own way arrives, I have yet another reason to be thankful because I have long ago realized that life is not measured by the number of birthdays one celebrates but the inexplicable impact we have on the lives that we have been privileged to encounter on our individual journey through life. Amazingly, last night I was in the company of my high school mates after more than two decades and as I stuttered through, keeping up with the updates to our individual lives, I silently acknowledged that I am more than blessed. Regardless of Myoclonus and each new name this neurological disorder spews forth, I know that I have survived through it all for more than just the simple reason that I am a survivor but more importantly that there is yet a purpose to be completed with my days.

Seated right now, in a very comfortable lounge, I prepare to yet undertake another phase in my life so uncannily marked by my birthday. I have lost friends who weren’t and gained those that are and have touched my own life in their own unique way. I reminisce on how it all started and the days when I was all but consumed by the shadows of depression, uncertainty and irreparable loss of those things I erroneously thought were the pillars of my life. Today, I sit and acknowledge that buildings are torn down so that newer and more majestic edifices can be erected and whilst the pain of the demolition puts more than an acrid taste in my mouth, yet I know beyond any shadow of doubt that what is being erected is way more glorious than what was once there. I am grateful for the things I have lost because I would never have gained the things I so cherish. I am grateful for the people I have lost because I realized as my father was always wont to say during my growing up days that ‘the beautiful ones are truly not yet born’. I have been blessed to be the father of an awesome daughter and as each day passes, I realize that nothing might have prepared me for this phase and season which rapidly draws to a close.

i felt the beautiful cold winds of the early spring morning on my face and with each exhilarating breath, I know that I could never ever completely count my blessings least of all, naming them one by one. I have witnessed the blazing death of the phoenix and watched the splendid rebirth of a more majestic creature and whilst I may have so desperately wanted to sit amidst the charred remains of what I felt was so beautiful, yet I was strengthened to hope beyond hope and trust that from the midst of the ashes, something much more splendid and majestic emerges. I have encountered lives that have inspired me and spurred me to heights that I dare not dreamed before. I have watched hope arising as the early morning sun, every glimmer just a taste of the radiant splendor that is just beyond the horizon. I have been stirred to live by faith, and make it my lifestyle, replete in the knowledge that faith and hope are concepts that cannot be taught only experienced and captured by one’s self. Chucking out the feelings of resentment that threatened to pull me down, I stand free and unshackled and whilst my body may be yet weak, still my spirit is renewed daily much more than I could ever have imagined.

I have been privy to the ineptitude of hapless experts and the scorns of people I once held dear. I have struggled more mornings than I wish to remember, every waking moment, an overwhelming battle with the constraints of living with this neurological disorder. Borne more pain than I ever felt I could, accepted with some degree of defiance that I am unable to do the very things that I had so easily done in the past and yet today I stand with such an immense sense of peace and joy that the glimmer out there is mine to bask in and what an awesome experience it will be when I am basking and luxuriating in the fullness of the radiance of a beautiful beginning, a complete restoration of better things than I had previously thought were irretrievably gone. I am a witness to the fact that you are yet to live until you experience what it means to lose so that you can find. You are yet to live until you are confronted with an upheaval of the very things that you felt were yours by right. But now, with a chuckle, I know that you never can have until you are willing to let go of what you think you have. Loving without being assured that you would be loved back, giving even when your very being screams out in protest and simply just keeping your eyes on the hills where the vast and inexhaustible reserves of strength are yours to just tap into.

It is a beautiful year for me, and I choose to persist doggedly and unwavering in my walk and call, knowing that I am not just a pawn to be sacrificed on the board of life but the son of the King whose thoughts for me are simply beyond my ability to grasp or comprehend. Life is a journey where we are privileged to meet and part, and yet what wisdom compares to the assurance that in those few seconds, you have bettered the life of one just like you albeit on his own path. As I mark today with whimsical feelings, I know that the day is just dawning and what an awesome one it will be, because I choose to believe that no matter how long the night is, surely the day comes and with it such an immense measure of joy.

My chauffeur beckons to me, and so I say to all of you who have been such an important part of my still unfolding story, the best is yet to come and so I cast away all thoughts that say the contrary. Wishing you all many more years of fulfilling your own purpose.

Remember that what makes you family is not the blood you share with a few but the loyalty and sense of commitment to our unique paths and purpose with the many others out there who like you have made their commitment to not be put down by whatever life throws at them.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!