Wednesday, 31 August 2011

At For-ty, I'm Beginning to Understand... 2

My thanks for the kind comments on my previous post (via FB and email).   Got a few from unexpected - but delightful - sources.  Shall we continue?

At For-ty, I'm beginning to understand why some people enquire, regarding their recently-deceased loved one, "Did he/she suffer?"  I didn't quite get it, really, whenever I'd heard it before my maternal grandmother's passing.  Her's was sudden.  And because of the how, that was one of the foremost thoughts in my mind.  "Did she suffer?"  It happened a few years before I turned For-ty, but, it's something on which I've since dwelt.  Now, having heard of a few other people who've passed on since then - whether relatives or relatives of friends - I've tried to understand what it is about knowing whether they suffered toward the end that is so important.  Admittedly, I haven't come up with much.  However, the little that I have says this.  Those of us left to mourn their loss just need that last bit of assurance that they went without suffering.  We are just glad and thankful that their final moments were not awful ones.  Even to the end, we want the best for those we love!  The answer we are always hoping to hear is, "No.  He/She didn't suffer."  For, in a strange yet comforting way, that answer brings a great relief!  And we think, "Good.  I'm glad to hear that."   In another sense, it's kinda for our benefit, too.  In an unintentionally selfish way, we are comforted knowing that they went without agony.  For, if they hadn't, how much more painful for us to know that we could not have been there to alleviate some of that pain/agony/suffering?  But, I'm wont to think it's more the former.  We want the best for our loved ones even in the end.

I'm beginning to understand that it is important to have a hand I can hold every now and then.  Sometimes I just need a hand to hold; that could be all the conversation and connection I need.  That hand, at the right moment, makes me feel comforted and loved and special and that I'm not in it (whatever it is) alone.  It could be the hand of a friend or a family member - even that of a stranger.  Hm.  True story.  I had been invited to a function that was to take place on the 51st (or was it 54th?) floor of a TD Bank building downtown Toronto.  I am scared of heights.  As the elevator ascended, I said as much to the two strangers who were en route to the same function.  The woman next to me said stteo: "If you want, you can hold my hand."  She must've heard the sigh of relief as I said, "Thank you!" And I reached out and took her hand.  Long after we'd exited the elevator - after what seemed like days - I kept thanking her.  But, that's what I'm talking about.  A hand to hold at the right moment.

I'm beginning to understand that people need people.  One of my fav stories is about a little girl who was asking for her dad's help to get undressed.  She was about 5 years old.  The father knew she could do it on her own and told her so.  She replied stteo: "Yes Daddy.  But, people need people, even when they can do things by theirselves [sic]."   I've grown accustomed to doing a lot of things by myself.  I hardly ever ask for help.  I don't like DIY, so I buy things that don't require assembly.  And, if they do, the store "will send somebody out."  But, that's beginning to change - because "people need people."  It's not just about putting things together, either.  I've found that it's about the company and the connection and the camaraderie and the celebration of unified achievement that comes with getting help and doing things together.  And, of a truth, there are some things that I simply am not able to do on my own. For those things, it is okay to ask for help.  And, wouldn't you know it?  The people to whom I reach out usually say yes.  (They may sound a tad surprised, but that's beside the point.)  I'm reminded of my fav Tina Turner song, "Help" (a cover of The Beatles, I believe.  And, btw, this live version sounds exactly like the one I taped from radio in the mid-80s, btw.)  It starts out, "When I was younger/So much younger than today/I never needed anybody's help in any way/And now those days have gone/I'm not so self-assured/And now I find, I've changed my mind/I've opened up the doors."   Guess life's just like that.  You get to that point, at some point...

I'm beginning to understand that it's okay to know who I am and what those things are up with which I will not put! :-) That I do not have to apologize for liking or disliking, wanting or not wanting, preferring or not preferring certain things.  In my conveying these preferences, I remain respectful - more so diplomatic - with a hint of a smile.  Sometimes an outright one.  A few years ago, in two jobs I held for (not surprisingly) under two years, an unfamiliar sense of relief swept over me when I finally admitted to myself, "I hate my job! I hate going to work there!"  I didn't leave right away.  But, somehow, that verbalized truth added gusto to my steps.  I didn't have to hold it in anymore and was able to endure the remaining months without imploding!  At For-ty, it's easy to sense what's in sync with my own preferences and likes and so on.  Easy to spot.  If it's not, it's kinda like another fav story of mine from years ago.  The watchman at a lighthouse kept watch night after night. A bell or a horn or something went off marking a given time every night.  One night, due to some malfunction, the bell didn't go off.  The watchman was startled out of his sleep by the omission of the familiar sound and jumped up, "What was that?" 

For me, in some cases of a new acquaintance/relationship, the omission of a quality or trait that should be in sync is easy to spot.  My "What was that?" moment sometimes lasts too long, as I give way to my main resolution (at For-ty) to be more "open". Whatever the heck that means!  Well, what I meant at the time  - and I imagine I still do now - is that I wouldn't be quick to write people off for saying or doing the occasional "dufus" thing.  Get to know 'em.  A few traits mightn't be in sync, but, I'd give it time.  In general, try new things; go for the adventure.  You know?  The one outside my square - home, work, church, store?  But, the truth is, it's easier said than done.  As that longtime quote (don't recall who said it) goes, "I want somebody who's already ticking the way he should be."

I'm beginning to understand that it's okay to want that; that and a number of other things on that shrunken list.  I've had a few relationships over the years and in each of them I have "loved thickly" - as that Toni Morrison line goes.  For, "what good is thin love?"  I'm glad to say that I have learned something from each of them.  After a six- or seven-year break from dating, I now desire my him.  Like I said, the list has shrunken but a few things have remained. He has to love our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Just...just take my word for it that other than that, there is no point.  He must love me - and like me.  Be each other's BFF.  He has to be affectionate - occasional PDA, not so much to make me or other folks uncomfortable - and romantic.  Sense of humour; good job (that he likes); can help the kids with their homework - especially Maths and Science and not be afraid of li*ards!  The laundry thing?  I'm kinda getting over that, given that it has become more convenient now.  But, if he wishes, I might be up for negotiating wrt to that particular chore!  Other attributes/qualities/traits/characteristics I pray that I can live with.  Another woman might go, "No way!"  While for me, re that same trait, I'd be like, "Pshww! I'm fine with that."

Hmmm.  I'm definitely beginning to understand that as much as I desire my him to be this that and the other, wherever he is, he is praying for his one and only to be this that and the other, too!  So, as someone said to me the other day, "You don't know how sexy it is that you have your sh*t together," (he had asked me to excuse the language), I take some comfort that I am on the right track.  Funny thing is, because I do have much of my stuff together, it could be a tad more difficult to discern the right one.  I'm old fashioned and do want to marry for love.  Not because it makes economic sense; not because of what I have etc.  For love.  And, it is exactly for this reason that I have to continuously seek God's guidance in my interactions with those with whom I come into contact - on and offline.  (Yeeeah.  The square isn't working. Other means necessary. Or so I think.)  I will be true to him.  As Proverbs 31 admonishes, his heart will be safe with me and I will do him good and not evil all the days of my life.

I'm beginning to understand the love and mercy of God.  That I truly am undeserving of His grace and mercy and lovingkindess.  That my only plea is that His Son, Jesus Christ, died for me and calls me friend and I'm joint heir with Him.  That in Christ's doing so, God's wrath and judgment that I do deserve was satisfied - not by any good deed or any other thing I could possibly have done!  That Romans 5: 7-8 and 1Cor 1: 18-29 will always tear me up and bring me to my knees in gratitude to Him.  When I was about 27 or so, I experienced Christ's rescue.  Sometime in this my year of For-ty, I have experienced His mercy and His love.  There are no words to describe how grateful I am to Him; how much I love Him and how much He means to me.  Yes, I'm beginning to get a glimpse of how much I mean to Him.  I simply ask these days that He help me use up my talents and apply the necessary hard work; that He help me be obedient and fearless!

Oh, there's so much more I'm beginning to understand.  People I don't know will care about me; people I've known for a while, won't.  Sometimes I have to apologize, even - and especially - when I don't want to.  Sometimes I have to force myself / be my own cheerleader, to get cracking on the things I must do - even when they're things I ordinarily enjoy doing. Sometimes I need to relax. I need to learn how.  I'm laughing a lot less these days, maybe 'cause I've been living alone for a while now.  Still, I need to get back to that place.

Sigh. Clearly, this post won't hold 'em all.  Might have to do a Part III  - at some point.   But, thankfully, I am beginning to understand these things.  I may never get them all down pat.  But, I'd like to think I'm off to a good start.


Sunday, 28 August 2011

At For-ty, I'm Beginning to Understand...

One of the things I'm beginning to understand is that I am only beginning to understand certain things.  There is still much ground to cover.  (I remember the saying: "God put me on this earth to accomplish a number of things.  I'm so far behind, I'll never die!" LOL!) Very few are the things that I fully understand - given hindsight and frame of reference and perspective and experience and what not.

I had a bout of illness the other day.  Apparently, when you're not in the best of health, that's one of the first and primary avenues to putting things into perspective.  All of a sudden, the bright light does appear.  It shines on everything around you, allowing you to assert and focus, with unparalleled clarity, on what really matters; what is important.  As it happened, this slump - yes, let's call it that.  Or, we could also call it this slipping under the radar, happened at For-ty.  Ah!  In time to help me shape my understanding of the necessity of being healthy, even as I began to understand a heck of a lot more things.

At For-ty (and, as I'd said just after celebrating my birthday earlier this year, writing it with the hyphen just makes it sound pre-tty), I'm beginning to understand that no matter how grown up I am, my mother will always be Mother.  We have the same age difference between us.  She loves me just as much as she did when she gave birth to me. She still has that maternal instinct.  Even when we disagree, I can count on her still liking me and loving me.  She is always looking out for my best interest, and, if I choose not to speak to her on certain matters, she finds other matters, until we get back to the matter at hand.  I'm beginning to understand that as long as she is alive, she will continue to pray for me and her support will be reliable.

I'm beginning to understand that my dad is prouder of me than he'd say to my face. (He does say it to others.) I'm beginning to understand that he prays for me and has high hopes for me and supports me more than I think, well, used to think.  Though, honestly, it's not something to which I gave a lot of thought.  That he is happy that I am a good role model for my sisters and that I help them when I can.

I'm beginning to understand that sisters sisters are a mix of sisters and friends and mean more to me than my closest friends.  I'm beginning to understand that my closest friends are like my sisters. 

I'm beginning to understand the value of having a brother-in-law with whom "the family" gets along; who is liked.  Seeing myself through the eyes of someone coming from "outside",  I've accepted that sometimes I could do things better; be nicer - it helps me strive to be a better person.  Thankfully, there are more times when I am appreciated and admired.  And, at all times, respected.

I'm beginning to understand that having a niece that I can "borrow" for my "kid-fix" is priceless!  Especially so when that niece is, for like, 90% of the time, an absolute pleasure to be around.  The conversations we have are uncomplicated...simple and creative.  I'm beginning to understand that the world as seen through the eyes of a 2 and 1/2 year old is, shall we say, a different place.  Her view of the world seems to be borne out of her being one word: Fearless!  She grabs it, dives into it, leaps off it, sometimes makes it up as she goes along; jumps onto it - whatever it is - with what we hope is the appropriate amount of protection.  In other words, I'm beginning to understand that caution is oftentimes taught and learnt - sometimes too well.  And that it may lead to fear, and limiting oneself and...and a type of (or many types of) paralysis.

I'm beginning to understand that many people who have children love them.  And want the best for them.  And that, having a child adds inexpressible meaning to one's life that simply cannot be realized through any other...experience.  I am beginning to understand that most parents think their children are special and are really princes and princesses - even if the rest of the world, shoot, even if the neighbour, mightn't think so.  I am beginning to understand that parenting really does not come with a manual - no matter how much "they" try to prepare you for it - and that new parents just try their hardest to get used to, and make the best of, the new addition(s).  I'm beginning to understand that some fail miserably at this and some manage quite well - and many fall in-between.

I'm beginning to understand that I have never lost in loving. And, my choice of "loving thickly" has always been the right one.  Hmmm.  More anon in the Pt. II of this :-)

I'm beginning to understand that my health ought not to be taken for granted.  And, even if I never used to take it for granted, (which I never did), it is possible for my body to do things that are neither pleasing, nor pleasant.  I recently increased my understanding of what it means to be in pain - all over! Enduring what felt like daggers clawing through certain parts of the body more than others; high temps; muscles on fire while being physically alone.  My understanding that "health is first and everything else follows" as expressed by my Bodysculpt instructor, Maha, increased significantly!  In those moments when I had nothing but a prayer and Jesus (ok, and some painkillers, and my family via phone), I began to ask the "What ifs?"  Admittedly, I didn't - couldn't - dwell on them for long.  I found more strength in being hopeful in Christ that He could - and would - make me well.  After all, I was beginning to understand the whole "His body was broken for me" thing.  Out of that came something else I quickly acknowledged as well.  Negative sentiments such as one uttered by an acquaintance; stteo: "And it's just getting worse, eh?" grated every nerve and sinew!  My quick response was, "No.  It's not.  This is just something different I have to deal with."  Upon a brief reflection, I realized that I do surround myself with people who have faith; who are positive.  Clearly, I had to declutter - and fast!

And, since then, each day gets better!  (Oh, so many uses for that John Legend song.)

I have promised to catch up with the 3rd entry for this month, by the end of the month.  I imagine that, life spared, it'll be the Part II to this heading.

Btw, today marks the 3rd Anniversary of this Blog.  As I'd long mentioned, I was inspired by Usain Bolt's performance at the Olympics in Beijing.  Sometimes, you just need a good start.  For me, it was a matter of becoming fearless and writing for public consumption (and criticism).  But, mostly, a matter of writing.  Just writing.

It's write or suffocate, remember?


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Breaks Allowed

So, for my two or so readers, my apology for not posting on the 8th.  Been terribly under the weather.  But, given that you're my biggest supporters - on and offline - you already knew that.

I imagine that there are those who'd file this under "excuses".  That's fine.  For, you see, as I've often said, I take many trips; none to where guilt is.  It would appear that in some of today's fast-paced environments (there are so many of them), one is not "allowed" to take a break; to pause; to get sick.  If that should happen, the worker is often left wondering whether these are strikes against them.  If you're the go-to guy or gal in your field/vocation, you might be left wondering how much of your credibility has been shot, since you've had to be off the radar for an extended time.

Of course, more often than not, all that's required is some communication.  Let your peeps know (as much as can be shared) what's going on.   Everyone needs a break from time to time; it's good for the body, mind and soul.  That's not so bad - even expected - when it's scheduled.  Y'know?  Like vacations and such.  It's those "that blindside you on some idle Tuesday" that will get you scrambling!  And worrying!  And wondering how ever, and in what light, are your fellow men and women, and followers and tweeps and connections the world over going to perceive you now!  I've heard the saying, "The brave ones play hurt."  I'm sure they do.  And, while that may be admirable and inspiring in one context, it also says in another context that one is not allowed to go off the radar just because one's hurt.  Try communication.  Let 'em know!

Today, given the electronic leashes to which many of us are attached, we remain accessible and in touch, even when we barely have the energy to speak.  After all, the fingers work, don't they?  But what of the mental and emotional and psychological etc. energy?  Surely, the fact that we are accessible doesn't mean that we should be accessed?  The fact that we are connected doesn't mean we should be contacted?  And, if we choose not to be; if we choose, instead, to just lay low and recoup, even in the face of deadlines and commitments, by society's standards, are we wimping out?   Good for those who communicate early the break they have to take because of certain other priorities - health, family, marriage etc.  Better yet when people understand that it's necessary.

The occasional inevitable pause due to, say, genuine ailment is, of course, not to be confused with "slacking-off".  There are those who opt to take a break when deadlines are to be met.  Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.  It is not of these that we speak.

I do intend to make up for that missing post before the end of August, my life being spared.  After all, it is the month of my Blog's anniversary.  Go figure!