I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge.


Leave a comment

The Art of Letting Go

Things change

Memories fade

People leave

So why do we continue to hold on?

The art of appreciating something for what it is, in the moment is one that if we were all to reflect deeply on; we couldn’t say that had truly mastered.

Letting go.. such an easy concept to consider. Logically, you let go of what no longer serves you. Surely, anything that robs us of our happiness should not remain a standing fixture in our lives. However, for one reason or another, we can’t help but linger on those memories past of that someone or that time way back when that made us feel all those things. The notion at play here isn’t about that person, that situation or that place in particular. Put simply, it’s about wanting to remain in the moment of that feeling. We truly are nostalgic beings and it’s easy to let our minds slip back to a time of euphoria.

I’ve come to liken this sense of looking back to actions associated with addiction. We experienced a high because of that time, person or place but it didn’t last. It faded into our memories and whenever life reached its most certain state of mundane, we reverted back to chasing that same high. What we don’t realise at the time is that the exact same sensation that we long for can never be achieved again. It inevitably becomes more dull and distant the more we attempt to chase it. But this is what makes the occurrence and the sensation so beautiful in the moment, knowing that it is fleeting and that we will never experience it this way again. It is the ultimate example of why you appreciate that moment in the present and treat it for what it is, but then once that moment has passed, close our eyes, practice gratitude that it occurred and then let it go.

Sx


Leave a comment

To new beginnings.

I was reminded of the unknown and at times scattered nature of the way life unfolds just a few weeks ago. As I started the year I remembered feeling so calm and at ease with the direction that life was taking me. In that perspective, I had heralded in a new age of trusting in my path and walking towards the perceived unknown without fear or anxiety. What I didn’t realise back then was, that yes there was a calm I was experiencing but it wasn’t in regard to an unknown path; my ease of mind was at a result of pre-conceived direction, even if that direction was open and somewhat vacant in nature.

I had unknowingly placed myself on a road that while somewhat unpaved in nature, still led in a certain set direction. It wasn’t a path that was open, but instead just hidden from initial view. I was subconsciously touting a level of mystery when I anticipated in the back of my mind that just beyond that horizon was an easy stroll to what would be a site of life success. Obviously when this turned out not to be the case, I felt utterly robbed of a false stability that had for so long been in place.

When I was a teenager, I wrote a poem entitled ‘Destination Unknown’ which I believed truly summed up my fervour for life and the uncharacteristic way that I perceived how I would live it. Somewhere between then and now this message has gotten lost, or at least somehow devastatingly tainted by adulthood. I came to a realisation just yesterday that although I proclaim that I am committed to an unknown path in life, I have unwittingly been kowtowing to someone else’s existence for all this time.

If I am to be true to those beautiful words of which I penned all those years ago, I would understand that my journey is truly my own. I would come to terms with its supremely unique nature and thereby understand the reason why it remains incomparable to any others.

Sx


2 Comments

Life of a Development Worker – Hope & Change in Kodaikanal

I was lucky enough to make my first trip in a new job last month which saw me travel to the charming and effervescent South India. As we drove through the arid terrain of Tamil Nadu in the dry season I struggled to spot groups of people or areas that looked the least bit inhabited. Upon asking why the region was so quiet, I was told by a local staff member that weather conditions in the area had become so dry that village members were only able to live in their homes during the 2-3 month period when their land was arable. In these communities, only 1 harvest per year is possible and at other times villagers board up their homes and drift to the larger cities to complete day labourer work. As you can imagine, there are all kinds of dangers associated with this type of migration; exploitation, discrimination and child labour amongst some of these.

I closed my eyes and reflected on how lucky I was to have the ability to drive in, and then out of these villages and continue on with my own privileged life. What a sad thought that is…

My next destination was the breathtakingly striking hill station in Kodaikanal. We were lucky enough to wind up the hills as the sun was setting which painted the sky an amazing shade of pink and highlighted the duality of the harshness and utter beauty of this mountainous terrain.

The project site itself is a technical institute which provides alternative education opportunities for children with disabilities, alongside a vocational training centre which skills young adults with disabilities to produce eco-friendly products to serve the local hospitality industry. This facet of the institute’s work provides the opportunity for these young adults to obtain a source of income generation thereby allowing them to take a more active role in dictating the direction of their own lives. As I wondered through the halls of this place, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat overwhelmed.

In a section at the back of the building, women from the community who have been trained as local health workers interact with young children with celebral palsy and provide daily physical rehabilitation treatments. These children’s muscles need to be stretched out in order to promote heightened mobility however I can only imagine the type of pain that this involves. While I was present a child, most probably under 3 years old, was wailing in agony as a result of these exercises. The effect it had on me was sheer heartbreak at watching this child suffer, but also remembering that it was for his best in the long term. What an oddity it is, and that life is in general which somehow in each situation allows us to suffer in order to achieve our betterment.

After the institute, we embarked on some home visits with the local women who have been funded under the project to become Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers. We visited two families of children with intellectual disabilities which I will never forget. As I looked into the eyes of their mothers, mere teenagers themselves I saw a yearning for answers, but at the same time a glimpse of hope which was being directed towards me. In these rural communities, birthing a child with a disability into this world is envisioned as being a curse. In many cases, families of children with disabilities are shunned, ostracised and are excluded from local community life.

As I interacted with these particular parents however, I started to understand that by raising their awareness against these superstitions, allowing them a place alongside CBR workers towards their children’s development, their attitudes had shifted. This had in turn influenced those of their local community and by mainstreaming these children into the local government schools, equipping teachers with adapted learning modules and exposing other children to their ability to learn alongside them; generational attitudinal change was occurring.

I walked away from these children still wondering about their futures, living in abject poverty is no precursor for quality of life. However, by raising their own standards toward what they are capable of and eliminating the barriers towards their participation in society, I could at least leave knowing that they would no longer be socially handicapped because of their disability. Their lot in life was no longer determined by this one element and ongoing support would allow for the basic opportunities that all human beings in spite of creed, caste, ethnicity, gender or disability are deserving of.

I will always remember my experience in Kodai and the effect it had on me. Yes I am a development worker who operates on a daily basis within the disability inclusive space; technically I should be used to these circumstances. But I am glad to know that I am continuously able to connect with every person I encounter first and foremost as a human being and that these experiences still move me emotionally. This is, and always has been about more than a job for me. I am humbled, privileged and truly blessed to continue having these experiences with people who change me, and my life, just as much as my interventions change their own.

Sx


Leave a comment

To be brave.

I’m always surprised at how quickly life can change, and how the path that was once so fruitful and open suddenly becomes a dead end. At every one of these junctures, it’s human nature to react with shock and wonder what on earth happened and should I have seen the signs towards the road ending?!

I’ve tried really hard this year to stay present in each moment and not look too far into the future. In my opinion, I’ve done this well however this has left me open to the possibility of looking up and realising that there is no further to go down the chosen path. Whilst it’s important to not get lost in a preconceived idea of the future, it is also imperative to reflect on the journey embarked on so far, reassess and then choose an alternative.

A recent experience has reminded me of the type of life that I want to live. I always tend to speak about being brave and risk taking throughout my existence. I sometimes think, that people misunderstand the meaning of this and instead of applying this into situations where it’s a true risk to take that leap, they channel it towards things that they can control. When I speak about taking risks, I mean it in the true sense of the word. Through having an open heart, an open mind and a willingness to make yourself vulnerable for what may lay ahead. This is what true bravery is, letting go of control, allowing life to happen and enjoying the ride.

It is innate human nature to instinctively close yourself off to the things that you can’t control and which scare you; it’s protectionism and we all tend to do it. The thing with that is though we are subconsciously closing ourselves off to what could potentially be greatness. I can say that in spite of many setbacks, sadness and heartbreaks, I continue to invest in people and situations and take the risk of living life in the purest and most open sense of the form. I’m not driven by fear, I’m driven by a willingness to live and explore every experience for what it is, no matter how scary it is.

I won’t pretend to know what lies ahead. The unknown nature of life is what makes it so precious. What I do know is that I will never be that person that shies away from something because it scares me. I understand that life will provide me with things whether or not I believe that I am ready for them or that they are indeed for me. In those instances I will be brave, continue down that path and bear whatever consequence that situation offers me. Because at the end of the day, this life is something that no matter how much I plan or how hard I attempt to steer things in one direction, it will inevitably lead in another. Such is the beauty and greatness of life.

I live this existence with an open mind and an open heart. I am not afraid to proclaim this and I’m ready & willing for whatever is ahead of me.

Sx