Memories. (August 2013)

•February 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Crept up on me like a silent wave approaching the shore,

And I stood listening as the tide of years gone by

Consumed me.

Embraced me like the bitter winds

Rolling off the coastal tides, rendering me

Breathless. Soothed me like a lullaby to a

Newborn baby’s ear and warmed me, like the sun-stroked

Windows on a summer’s afternoon. Caressed me

Like a dewdrop sliding down a slanted leaf yet

Broke me, as if all the stars collided and saddened me,

Like the sound of a child’s plaintive cry at night.

Trapped me like an insect amidst the web of

Yesterday.  Covered me gently like a brush of

Color, seeping through the canvas of my mind and

Humbled me, as I stood before my shrine to you.

Played me like concerto in an empty, hollow hall

That filled me with the echoes of that solemn melody.

Cured me with elixirs and took me back to that place

That I traced on my palm, like lines on the map of my

Journey to you. Dangled me from the edge of contentment

Like a spider’s silky gossamer, threatening to fall from

The zenith of the world. Followed me like a shadow,

Not dependent on the rising and setting of the sun but on

The unpredictability of the subtle triggers that

Rewound time and placed me in a moment from

Long, long ago. Emptied me as I surrendered to a

Desire to feel again and taunted me as I

Battled the demons of a tomorrow, until naught was left

To do but to stare into the eyes of defeat.

Melted me as the flashbacks poured out over me like

The wax of a candle, lit for every minute I could remember.

Frightened me like the trembling grumbles of a worsening thunder

On a cold and lonely evening but inspired me, like the

Resonating sound of a building crescendo.

Held me down and watched me retreat, as I prayed

For an inner peace. Reminding me that the power of a

Soft, sweet recollection is more than enough to

Tear down the walls and reverse all the steps that I took

Just to forget. Swung me into oblivion, leaving me with

Nothing but a moment, one moment and

I can’t. Let. Go.

Memories crept up on me like a silent wave approaching the shore,

And I stood listening as the tide of years gone by

Consumed me.

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Consultant: It seems you have a bad case of intolerance. Patient: So, is there a pill for that? (April 2013)

•April 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

One of the latest “hot topics” in the worlds of Psychology and Sociology these days is the work-in-progress, DSM-V. For those who do not know, the DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Since 1952 (when the first DSM was released), there have been countless edits – both subtractions and additions – to this particular point of reference. Today, it is considered a reputable source to reflect the most appropriate and agreed-upon criteria for any recognized mental disorders. Starting with approximately 100 in the first edition, the DSM-IV now contains over 300 “mental disorders.” The much-anticipated DSM-V is due to be released in May of 2013, and has been quite the topic of controversy across the board among scientists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists (and everything in between) as well as anyone remotely concerned with the methods of diagnosis for psychological illnesses.

Within the DSM-V, there will supposedly be a section focused on particular symptoms that would require further study, prior to becoming the criteria for a new addition to the manual. Several of these, to me and to many who have been exposed to them, are rather…laughable. Apologies for anyone this may offend but if you feel strongly about every one of the propositions, I suggest you refrain from reading the rest of this – I’m rather critical of a select few. I promise this ties to a bigger picture (indicated by my blog post title), so bear with me.

Of the “disorders” requiring further investigation, I am most critical of the introduction of ‘Internet Disorder.’ As one can probably guess, this would fall under the category of ‘Addictions.’ After listing countless drugs, alcoholic substances and so on, there may also be a section titled ‘Internet.’ Internet addiction, a social construction itself, will be classified as the incessant “need” to be connected to cyberspace at all times. Under this section, will fall anyone who consistently feels they must check their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail etc. Under this section, will fall anyone who feels frequent urges to update their statuses, to tweet, to search online, to watch videos or to engage in any other web-based activity. Subsequently, based on this roughly-outlined criterion, this section will encompass an incredibly high proportion of the affluent, middle-class members of my generation (ie. those who have access to the web at all times, if they choose to use it) and ever-increasingly higher proportions of the generations to come.

Before I go any further, I absolutely acknowledge that there is a difference between those who stay connected for reasons affiliated with corporate mobility (ie. networking, video conference calls and so on) or within what would be considered “regular” social habits of today’s world, versus those who can’t seem to take their eyes off their internet-accessing devices. If I had to guess, I’d say each of us has come into contact with someone or another – oftentimes a teenage youth – who seems to have developed this “addiction.” If/when this is medicalized (ie. transitions from a product of modern socialization to a medical issue), treatment will be the first consideration on the list. For a while, as with all other medical diagnoses at one time or another, therapy will be the go-to route. But, what happens when someone sells some fancy chemical composition to a pharmaceutical company, claiming it is the “cure”?

I understand that for now, while still such a premature phenomenon, this sounds silly and extreme. But tell me, do you honestly think that all patients treated with pills for mental disorders nowadays, truly need them? A strong and informed believer in natural remedies, once (paraphrased and cited anonymously for the sake of privacy) asked me “why place trust in disciplines that are merely hundreds of years old, relative to those that have been around for centuries?” and at the time, perhaps it didn’t make me think as carefully about this phenomenon as it should have. Now that I’ve had quite a few encounters with doctors (both via interactions with my own as well as those of others, along with aspiring doctors at my university), I couldn’t possibly agree more with the point being made.

Margot Kidder, an actress who believes wholeheartedly in the power of Orthomolecular medicine (focused on natural and nutritional supplements to cure illnesses), spoke directly to this issue. She explained that “it [the pharmaceutical industry] is the most profitable industry in the world, and partially funds the US government. It surpasses oil in terms of profits and my country recently went to war due to oil pricing. What does that say they will do to keep this other industry in tact? It is up to patients and their families to question what they are being given, and to consumers to demand better, more natural alternatives.”

Over-prescription is a larger issue than many are aware; the numbers of patients who were previously being treated without medical intervention and are now being treated with pills, are rapidly on the rise. Now, this is not at all to say that there aren’t people who need these treatments; by no means am I suggesting that therapy cures all ailments, biological or otherwise. Those rooted in ascribed chemical imbalances, for example are often only truly cured by some form of medicine. However, with many developed hormonal imbalances, there are socially-constructed causes that are important to consider. While I could spend forever discussing the ways in which stress can induce thyroid issues (among others), how the media can contribute significantly to distorted body image (and subsequently many eating disorders) or perfectly normal kids having typical temper tantrums more frequently than 3x a week, possibly being labeled as having ‘Disruptive Mood Disregulation Disorder,’ I’d pull the focus onto the broader-scale issue of intolerance.

A chicken vs. egg case can certainly be made here; many will argue that if the drugs become available, people come running for the quick fix while others will say that with increasing average intolerance within societies, there has been a subsequent demand for pharmacological involvement. It’s all cyclical but I’d lean more towards labeling the advent of the latter, as a catalyst. As long as the people want it, it will be invented and provided. Few (if any) would spend countless hours in laboratories, composing a drug they’re certain nobody will want to use; they work to fulfill the demands of the patients.

So, coming back to the possible introduction of ‘Internet disorder,’ this is a classic example of the need to medicalize that which simply is not a chemical issue. Drugs and alcohol are physically ingested, and these substances move to infiltrate the bloodstream and so on. However, the Internet? Really? Anyone without frequent access to the e-world, will be free from this diagnosis because just as with any other addiction, unavailability obviously leaves no possibility for getting hooked. The only difference here is that there is no chemical basis in this addiction at all. Nobody is absorbing a tangible substance, here. It is a mental hunger, non-existent to those who enjoy the appropriate blend of discipline/regulation (up to a certain age, by parental and/or academic authorities), and self-control.

However, there will always be people who upon reflecting on the oh, so daunting prospect of having to put in the effort to harness their minds and control their obsessions, will call for a paragraph in the DSM and eventually a daily tablet. NEWSFLASH: there ain’t a tablet for intolerance. If you know it’s an issue, before you ever even think of turning to anyone else, trust in the aid of confidence; tell yourself that you are entirely capable of handling this on your own, and you’d be surprised where that can get you. With mental training and resulting restraint, this “disorder” will become laughable to you, too. I can only hope and pray that people do not surrender to the often-tempting power of the “easy way out” prior to recognizing that in many cases, nothing could possibly be more harmful to them. I know I’m no medical, licensed professional but I also know that unless we quit jumping to extreme ends of the spectrum calling stressed students at the peak of their studies/applications “depressed”, calling temper tantrums “mood disregulation” or calling anyone surrounded by a million and one distractions approaching from all angles “ADHD” for losing focus, then the “mentally ill” will be the majority.

Pessimistic? I’d argue not. Realistic, is really what I’d call it. Maybe not 100% now, but let us re-evaluate the circumstances as future generations rise. In the spirit of redundancy I’m all for biological, professionally-evaluated psychiatric diagnoses to be treated with medication. However, I pray self-reflection and training and if not that, then psychological (ie. sans prescriptions) therapy returns to the number one, most preferable solution for any mental disorders. This responsibility does not solely fall to the psychologists and doctors – not at all. This falls to the people. If in countries where the go-to is pills, there is a re-orientation towards toughing many situations out then the tolerance, patience and strength among the population’s inhabitants will greatly increase. Nobody is saying it will be easy but that’s precisely the point; that which is worth fighting for is not typically presented immediately on a silver platter for the simple and effortless taking. Instant gratification is typically not nearly as satisfying as knowing you pushed through a challenging experience, and avoided the potentially harmful long-term effects of pill treatment.

Try some spinach and pomegranate for iron deficiency. Sip on some peppermint tea for nausea. Buy some aloe vera (fresh from the plant) as acne treatment. Munch on some cranberries for UTIs. Ladies, heat up a towel or a hot-water bottle and place it at the small of your back or on your stomach, if you’re feeling the cramps build up. Brew your boiled water with ginger, lemon and cardamom for an endless number of ailments. Exercise to release the right energy endorphins, proceed to jump in a quick cold shower or simply sleep earlier than usual (or some combination of all of the above) for fatigue. Moderate caffeine and sugar intake if you’re feeling particularly jittery. Curl up under a blanket and drink some warm milk and honey or chamomile tea for a smoother, uninterrupted sleep. Put the laptop under the bed, leave the phone upstairs, turn off the wireless, pick up a book from the library – seek the healthy alternatives, and I assure you that you will find more than you even knew existed. Challenge yourself to resist whichever temptations you feel may be haunting you.

Every single person owes it to themselves to try. I’m not saying each of these is 100% bound to work, nor am I saying no pharmacological treatments work because of course, thousands of diseases and disorders have been prevented/cured over the years by these inventions. However, I am saying that before the advent of any pills of any sort, many people were successfully defeating obstacles, the “solutions” for which come in an over-the-counter, often overpriced bottle here today.

I’ve fallen victim to these self-harming crimes in the past but this is precisely why I now try my best not to get sucked into them if, and when I can. I figure if there’s any chance I don’t need to mess with the natural hormones and chemicals making up the complex daily processes in my body, I’d rather not. If there’s some vegetable, some fruit or even some focused thought that can help “cure” me, I pray I’ll continue to have the strength to take that over a shameful excuse for impatience and intolerance, any day. Many ask why they’d tolerate discomfort or discontentment (emotionally, mentally or physically) if they didn’t “need” to and to that I say that resilience and immunity is only strengthened by a conquered battle. Once you succeed, you can inspire others to try – the impossible, becomes possible. Helping oneself and paving the way for others to do the same? Nothing better, my friends. Nothing better.

Disclaimer (April 2013)

•April 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Before I begin voicing my opinions on the next topic I’m interested in, I’d like to make one important clarification – many of my more critical posts, have used the US as the context for my analysis. While I definitely think there are some major differences in values, attitudes, mindsets, behaviors across the world, the relations of my personal experiences of course reflect my life in America. I cannot ignore my location just as I cannot ignore the relevance of my gender, my age, my academic standing, my socioeconomic status and so on. These are elements of my story that are integral to the contextual formation in which I write. So, I’d hate to give the impression that I’ve developed an unyielding hostility towards the US.

My fields of study have been Sociology and Psychology, for quite some time now. Most of the courses I am currently enrolled in subsequently expose me to many of the social inequalities that are being reproduced within this continent. Upon studying many of these, I do openly admit that relative to the levels of power and influence that the US has, I personally believe that the values and attitudes of many citizens are fatally flawed. If someone were to ask me if I think this is the best place to live in the world, I (and countless statistical analyses) would answer that it is not. If I could pick up all my loved ones (family and friends) and place us all in one location, I confess that America wouldn’t be it. But, this isn’t to be taken to an extreme end.

I by no means am saying that everyone here is one way or another, nor am I at all trying to assert that this is a horrible place – it absolutely isn’t. Thousands are battling to migrate here each and every day. There are many wonderful opportunities and fantastic inhabitants that are emerging from the woodwork, here and everywhere else. No doubt. Additionally, I’m beyond grateful for the life that (Alhamdulillah) I have here. Having said that, my studies (about which I am most passionate) revolve around the problems. Mostly, within the United States. So, those are what I seek to discuss.

With that, I look forward to hearing some heated feedback on my upcoming posts! As a teaser, the title of one of them will be ‘Consultant: It seems you have a bad case of intolerance. Patient: Right. So, is there a pill for that?’ 

Stay tuned!

Growing Up: Questions and Answers. (Mar 2013)

•April 1, 2013 • 4 Comments

        Growing up is hard. No manuals nor handbooks on how to live your life at every step; how to handle the blows around any fast-approaching corner, how to reconcile your deepest thoughts and deepest emotions such that they are in sync, how to have faith in the daylight through your darkest of hours or how to breathe in a room of fears that could suffocate you. It’s an art, I tell you. An art one spends every waking moment, trying to perfect until they finally realize that they’re striving for something that will never exist without a level of irony – perfection. No, I’m not a pessimist. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an optimist either, but I’m benching my biases on this one. I promise. I do like to think, however, that I’m a realist. I have my hopes and aspirations (as we all should), but I typically know the line between what is and is not within my reach. 
        Let’s discuss the irony of perfection. Quite the embroidered mouthful, right? To break it down, I’m talking about the fact that in order to feel as though some aspect of your life is “perfect,” you must first embrace every little imperfection. Then, and only then, can the puzzle pieces fit. Before that ever happens, we must first learn to control the two pesky little words, making up the question that is almost impossible to avoid – WHAT IF? What if I don’t…What if they…What if it becomes…What if I can’t…What if we realize…What if this won’t….What if it all…BUT WHAT IF? It’s a killer, I tell you. The number of nights I’ve spent awake, going in circles with endless questions beginning with “what if,” is unbelievable. But it’s human nature, right? We can’t help but wonder, at any given moment, how things would have gone if we took one little turning as opposed to another somewhere along the way. It gets us nowhere, of course; it leaves us, often times neglecting to appreciate all the lovely blessings we’ve had bestowed upon us by His mercy and His compassion. 
        If there’s one major thing I’ve learned, though, it’s that growing up is all about time. It takes time to get to know yourself, to cultivate a sense of self within you, to figure out what and who you want as a part of your life and to figure out who you ultimately are at your very core. This process is individual, but there is a lot more involved. Parents, siblings, close friends, loved ones and even those we come to dislike, each provide (respectively) a stepping stone on the path we tread. Some, bigger and more important than others. Some will come to an end, and there will be no looking back while others will seem to disappear, only to return when the time is right. However, in the end, the biggest leaps and bounds are ones we can only take alone. At the end of every day, we (alone) must face ourselves and ask the million-dollar questions: Who am I? Is what I said and did today, consistent with the human being I see myself becoming? Am I surrounding myself with people who will make me want to be better? Am I holding onto things, or letting go of things that I shouldn’t? Am I existing in a comatose state, numb to what it really means to live or am I playing the role I was born to play? Will I be ready to face my Creator when that day dawns upon me, cleansed of all I do not wish to be?
        Though we ask the questions, the very definition of life is finding the answers. Some will take longer than others, and Lord knows that many will change drastically from the dawn of one day to the sunset of the next. All one can do, is pray that each decision made in each waking moment, is in sync with that which is His will. That we will follow His path, leading us to all that is good. All that is right. All that is true. With every moment that we fear our losses and our heartaches, we must always remember that we are an ever-evolving version of ourselves. That tomorrow will bring a new day, and “this too shall pass.” That life is for living, and that the journey is a never-ending climb towards the zenith of our purpose. The day we reach our peaks and truly fulfill our destiny, will be the day He will meet us and insh’Allah, lead us to the beauty of Paradise. May we never deviate from our path to seek Him in all we do, fail in the face of His tests in our tracks nor taint His glorious name with even a glimmer of doubt in our pursuits. Instead, may our words and our actions be manifestations of His word — the only “manual” we will ever need. May we find the strength to keep climbing towards ourselves and ultimately, towards our Maker from whence we came. Always.

The Shadow Awaits. (Mar 2013)

•March 6, 2013 • 6 Comments

A shadow in the daylight,

Followed her into the darkness.

 

With each breath that she drew in turn,

They followed close behind.

 

The memories, the laughter,

The eyes that said it all.

 

True were her intentions,

And strong was her trust in faith.

 

But nothing to penetrate the exterior,

Where she held her past so near.

 

She sought solace in the patterns,

The lines of symmetry in her work.

 

Her body pulled, she turned away

But the strings of her heart begged she stay a while.

 

So she let the night fall silently,

As her tears became her language.

 

The truth she kept near and locked inside,

In the hopes no-one could find it.

 

But when those days knocked upon her door,

She just couldn’t hide a thing.

 

She wonders if it’s out there still,

The will to understand.

 

Knowing all too well, the answer,

She retreats and prays for strength.

 

The kind to keep her moving along,

When defeat had left it’s trace.

 

She lowered her gaze, held her tongue,

And longed for the signs to show.

 

But years went by and all she knew,

Was that she left where she belonged.

 

So she came back to the life she led,

And waited for the bell to ring.

 

And the shadow followed close behind,

To unravel her in the darkness.

Read on… (March 2013)

•March 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

There are pages in the stories of our lives that we can edit as we please; mere musings of our complex minds, that are entirely subject (and available) to change. There are even some, occasionally, that are easily-erased pencil sketches; in time, forgotten. Then, there are the “other” ones. Just some things that when we lay in bed late at night and slip into our most pensive of moods, we realize are destined to forever remain unchanged. Those pages, that are eternally imbued in the very core of our being. Those pages, that emerge unscathed from the test of time. Those pages, that will always be written.

A collection of these special pages come together to create chapters. Some that we never wish to read again because we think they lack purpose, or because reflecting on them is just too raw. Too much. Others that upon initial reading seem meaningless but in hindsight, turn out to have made all the difference. Lastly, once again, we come across the “other” ones. The chapters we wish never ended. The chapters we wish to read over and over again, as if every time were the very first. The parts of our lives that we want to capture and cling to, even if it means setting the book down and allowing our stubbornness to slip us into a state of pause. Of denial. The chapters where we loved and were loved more than our hearts could handle. The chapters where we brought laughter to others and in turn, got an ab workout of our own. The chapters where we were genuinely at peace with the human beings we had become, and with the lives we had ahead of us. The chapters where we could picture eternal contentment (according to the definition of “contentment” that means no less than sheer bliss) within reach.

Eventually, however fortunately or unfortunately, our lives inevitably resume. The period of pause will come to an end, and the clock will keep on ticking. We realize, when the time comes for us to finally understand, that the writing does not depend upon the reader. Whether we read it or not, the story progresses.  Whether we close our eyes or not, the world will keep on turning. This does not mean we will never feel the warm love and the contagious laughter, or picture the bright future of endless happiness again. It just means that once the anguish of letting go comes to pass, we must pick ourselves back up and move on because where we once stopped – a roadblock, if you will – is not where the journey was necessarily destined to end.

While letting go may be the final words of one chapter, the reasons why may all come together in the next. As much as shutting down attempts to convince us that it is the only escape, we ultimately know that we must restart. For every belief we have that something or someone is worth holding on to, we must also have faith that whatever it is that we believe in (be it God, destiny or anything else), will carry forward that which is meant to be. That if we just keep reading, everything can change. That all that is ours to keep, though may get lost or deviate along the way, will eventually return to us; ‘return’ by definition, after all, requires leaving in the first place. That if we stand for all that is worth fighting for, our relentless pursuits will be rewarded not by the knowledge that we won or lost, but that we gave everything to something we believed in and we never stopped trying (even – in fact, especially – if there seemed to be nothing left). That if we just let each investment withstand the grueling trials of time, the dust will clear away with anything that was never meant to matter. That left, etched into the final page will be everything we had been waiting for and just like that, it will all be worth it.

So, be it willingly or reluctantly, we must read on…

Madonna Got It Right. (Jan 2013)

•January 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“We are living in a material world.” With each day, I progressively come to understand how much truth lay in the words Madonna once sang. Somewhere deep in the hearts of those such as myself (ie. one who is blessed with materials galore), we know we love our “things.” I’m not just talking dishwashers and drying machines because those of us who have them, often neglect how valuable they are since we are often surrounded by those who find them to be standard household norms. I’m talking the oustandingly extraneous luxuries; the sports cars with the unbeatable horse-power, the jewelry to match each of hundreds of outfits, the clothes with fancy brand tags (even if the same thing is available next door, minus the rep), the watches to tell us the time in 22 carat gold, the wedding setups fit for kings and queens and the healthcare plans to die for (see what I did there?).

I’m no saint — I have made many a salesperson happy in my lifetime. I’m no judge — I stand amidst those on trial. I’m no hypocrite — I will openly admit that I have a stylin’ Jetta, that there is no fashion statement for which I don’t have matching accessories, that I do indeed wear my Tiffany’s necklace frequently, that my Skagen watch (though not gold) is quite the pricey piece, that I dream of a big wedding (though more in numbers than in appearance) and that my healthcare plan is more than accommodating. So, I will be the first to plead guilty. Lately, though, this “material world” concept has been navigating my mind and has now reached the very forefront.

I am currently in Mumbai, India where I have inevitably been exposed to those living lives fraught with struggle (not to say I have not been witness to this in the USA, though). While I feel compassion and sympathy towards them, there’s more to it than that. So many people around me here, have the bare minimum. Four walls to call a home, a hike for sanitary water, an ancient book for entertainment and a smile to top it all off. Meanwhile, I sit in a well-cooled, solid, 2-bedroom apartment and complain about the odd mosquito bite or the latest preposterous comment from politicians I see on the plasma TV before me. Granted, we do help others — we came here with a suitcase of countless clothes, odds and ends to give to charity and I know we are among many who do the same. Additionally, I know the wealth we do have is a result of the hard work and efforts of the family that has raised me. But, who are we to say we earned the life we lead? As if we have any more of a right to basic needs and sustenance, than anyone else.

Sure, we work hard and receive monetary rewards but just because our situations indicate a bubble of justice, does not mean we aren’t floating between those who are stuck in suffocating bubbles of unacceptable inequilibrium and injustice. The funny thing is, it takes forever for some people to realise that they can be in mansions worth all the world’s gold and diamonds combined but they may never be as happy as their battling counterparts. Not to say all those who are wealthy, are unhappy. Instead, just that there really is so much more to happiness than “stuff.” It’s “nice” to embellish ourselves with the fancy, convenient, good-looking details but there is a reason why I was taught never to describe things as such. “Nice” implies, often times, that something is missing. That what you’re describing just isn’t everything you envisioned. To be content (in the non-mediocre, heavenly bliss sense of the word), is to be aware of what really matters.

To see people with little to nothing in material things, laughing and smiling together is the most beautiful sight. They have been forced, for whatever reasons, to a crossroads; they can moan and whine (which many would be justified in doing) or they can raise their chins and be thankful for the little things. The littlest things, that matter the most.

It’s not about the latest celebrity gossip or what’s in/out of style. It’s not about the tag on the items or the names we flaunt so proudly. It’s not about beating everyone else, all the time and it’s certainly not about the money. It’s about family. It’s about friends. It’s about partners. It’s about giving so much more than we take, because therein lies true joy. It’s about selflessness and compassion, without which the world is tipped upside down. It’s about gaining perspective and ensuring that all circumstances are seen for what they really are, instead of what we want them to be. It’s about recognising that when we point a finger at someone else, we do indeed (literally and metaphorically) have three fingers pointing back at us. It’s about forgiveness and mercy. It’s about knowing how lucky you are if you have people (not things) to miss so much that it hurts. If those people are no longer around, it’s about the faith that they rest peacefully in heaven, sending their light to watch over you from beyond. It’s about allowing oneself to make mistakes, but ensuring that a learning process follows.

It’s the beauty in the simple, intangible things. Ridden with cliche, I know but it is so true. I pray each of us most fortunate ones are given exposure to those who have so little in things, yet so much in character. I am no saint. I am no judge. I am no hypocrite. I too, forget to count my blessings sometimes. I too, have spoken of basic necessities as though they are anything less than luxuries. However, it is never too late to embed within oneself, the value of all that cannot be held. In essence, of that which can only be felt for “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” -Jim Elliot