Friday, August 15, 2014

Who are we to judge?

What happened to that poor hobo lying there on the pavement? What went wrong in his life? Maybe he was just like you and me with dreams in his heart and brilliant ideas in his mind. Surely he also had wonderful flights of fancy about how he would see himself one day. What happened to drive those dreams out of his heart and mind? Or maybe it’s still there, and that is why he is lying there drugged or drunk. Like an old torn up doll, discarded on the rubbish without even a second thought. 

Do you know that man with the red swollen eyes who is staring out in front of him into nothingness? Lying there with his dirty stinking clothes in the way of decent folks on their way to work or their fancy houses. Do you also shudder when he reaches out his dirty broken hands to beg for money or food?  Do you think he doesn't see how much you despise him when you turn away from him in disgust? Don’t you think he hurts when you kick his feet out of your way, or curse him for his uselessness?

Maybe he is too lazy to work, or he doesn't see any reason in living any more. Could be he just struggles along every day until death comes to fetch him and release him from this pain of being alive, because he doesn't have the guts to kill himself? Or maybe that is what he is doing right now, drinking himself to death slowly but surely. Dreaming in oblivion of all he had and lost or never even had.

Does he have a family somewhere worrying about him? Or is he all alone in this world? Without anyone’s love in his life he’s slumping there on the dirty sidewalk, alone and lost. He is suffocating the dreams in his heart with alcohol and drugs. 
How he must hurt every day, living a life of no consequence. How painful it must be that there is nobody to wake up for every day, nothing to make his heart sing in happiness. Can you imagine the destitution in his lonely heart?
Who are we to judge him?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Can we really prevent suicide?

Every year there is a worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. Can we ever prevent suicide? I really don't know. Statistics prove that someone who attempts suicide repeatedly eventually succeeds. Many who are serious about it don't give away any clues. I never realised my son Emile was in a place where he was planning his own death. Only after I lost him did I realise some of the things that pointed to it. At the time it didn’t seem significant I just thought he was growing up and taking responsibility for his life. 

Because I also believe we die on the day that was destined for us I don't know how a day of awareness can stop that from happening. I have worked hard over the years to spread awareness about it. People are still dying by their own hand and the statistics doesn’t show how many lives were saved because of creating awareness. In my opinion there should be awareness for the survivors of suicide or any kind of death for that matter.

In the event of losing a loved one you will know the unbearable road of grief you are facing. Suicide is particularly hard because you have all these questions you need answers to. As a parent you feel responsible for the death of a child by this means. We all feel we could have prevented it from happening. In retrospect there was nothing we could have done to save them. When someone decides to die they are secretive about it and you will only find evidence of their plans after they have gone.

Ask any parent who lost a child and most will tell you they had no idea this was going to happen. Even the ones whose children suffered from depression of any kind will tell you they never really believed their child would commit suicide. There can be many signs and you can fear for the life of them but in the end we are helpless to protect them against it. You also can't protect them from dying in a car accident, a terminal disease or being murdered.

We should create awareness of grief in the event of loss by suicide. Parents, partners and children should know what they will face if that unfortunate tragedy ever struck them. We should teach them about the utter pain, desolation, agony and a feeling of madness that you live every day for years to come. That deep void your loved one is going to leave in your life. It doesn't seem possible that it will happen to you but it does. And you are going to need all the support, love, strength and encouragement you can find.

People should be informed of how to support a friend or family member in the event of this happening. Don’t try to advise them on how to grieve, just be there and listen and give lots of hugs and love. Nothing in the world you can say will make it better for them. Just knowing they have someone to depend on when things get too much to handle will be help on its own.

Blessed Be and Namaste!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Playgroup for Capuchin pet monkeys in South Africa.

To find a playgroup where your toddlers will be safe and well looked after is already a challenging task and finding one for your Capuchin pet monkey is next to impossible. Poppie Botes, owner of the “Queen of the Jungle” playgroup for monkeys is an animal lover in Johannesburg, South Africa who realised the need for this when she acquired two Capuchin monkeys of her own three years ago. At the time she owned a home industry shop and had to take her two children, as she calls them, with her where they were kept in a little cage. “Other people who also had monkeys for pets brought them to play with my three year old Amy and Kerneels because they get very lonely and need to be with their own kind,” she informed me. She then decided to start a playgroup where people could bring their Capuchin monkeys to spend the day. Poppie now has five monkeys that visit her playgroup every day of which the youngest is Jesse at five months old.

She converted a huge veranda at her home into a cage that is connected to an ever bigger cage outside by way of a wire pipe. Owners of these delightful little animals drop them off in the morning on their way to work and pick them up again at night, just like working parents with toddlers would do. She cares for these monkeys with patience and love as if they are little kids. In the morning they are fed a bottle of milk formula as well as baby porridge and for lunch they have cooked chicken, eggs, a sandwich and lots of raw fruit and vegetables during the day. They also drink fruit juices and tea and once a week are treated with sweets and cookies, not too much because they are prone to diabetes. At birthdays they have a birthday party with party packs filled with lovely goodies that they open and eat themselves.

There is a jungle gym in the outside cage with swings and toys where play and keep themselves busy all day long as well as a small pool where they can cool off in summer. “My toddlers need lots of attention and stimulation and I make sure they are entertained during the day,” she said. The cages are cleaned every day and kept in immaculate condition, because when one becomes sick, all of them do. They are treated for illnesses the same way as humans because being a primate they are very similar to us. Like any other kids they love toys and play for hours with stuffed toys and cars and every afternoon take a nap with a favourite blanket or soft toy.

Every night Poppie’s babies bath themselves and are fed a bottle of milk formula and put to bed wearing a nappy. Their bed is a specially adapted baby cot that stands in her bedroom next to her bed. They play for a while or watch television before falling asleep. “Our friends and family know that Amy and Kerneels are part of our family and treat them accordingly.” 

Apart from them she also has an African Grey parrot, a Macaw parrot, four bearded dragons, four budgies, an iguana, five guinea pigs, five silky chickens, nine koi fishes, eight dogs and one cat!
Capuchin monkeys are extremely intelligent and can be taught to understand and execute instructions and commands. 

Helping Hands, an organization in the US train these amazing animals to assist people with spinal injuries in their everyday lives. Watch this video for more information.

To have a Capuchin monkey as a pet is a lifelong passion, not just a passing fancy, because they can live for up to 45 years, and need lots of attention love and patience and require hard work. They have to be fed certain foods every day and be kept in a big cage to move around and play. However it is worth the effort since they are loving and affectionate little creatures.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't you ever give up hope!

“His eyes were sunken like an old man’s eyes, a maggot crawled on his bottom lip and a roaring insane scream escaped my lips. This zombie like dead creature wasn't my beautiful son, there had to be a mistake. This nightmare wasn't going to end and I was slowly losing my mind because my son could not have hanged himself in a weeping willow tree, I couldn't bear the thought of that.”

For years I tried to get that image out of my mind, nothing I did could erase it from my memory. Suicide is considered murder in South Africa and that meant my son Emile’s body wasn't treated with dignity and respect and he started decomposing by the time we had his service. No matter what that inconsiderate action would do to me. I donated his organs and his eyes weren't replaced with prosthesis leaving him looking like a monster. The horrifying and mutilated person didn’t resemble my beautiful son.

When you reach that place when life doesn't seem worth living anymore and suicide feels like the only option left please think about what you are going to do to the people who love you more than you can ever realise. They are not going to be better off without you, in fact you are going to destroy not only the ones you want to punish but the innocent ones as well. No problem you are struggling with is worth taking your precious life over. You are so much more than that.

The moment you have taken that last fateful step of suicide, there is no turning back, there is no rewind button and you can't erase what you have done because death is permanent. A permanent solution to a temporary problem that will leave destruction and agony in its wake for the ones who love you more than you could ever imagine. Some problems only feels as if it will last forever when in fact it is only a fleeting part of your life. When I saw my son dead that morning I felt helpless because there was nothing I could do to save him. Death is the most final thing that can’t be rectified or changed. It truly is the end.

My son Emile felt that the demons plaguing him was too much to bear and on a lovely summer morning in February of 2006 we were called to the park where he hanged himself in a weeping willow tree the previous night. Not only did he take his own life but a huge part of mine as well. The anguish and hell I lived from then on almost destroyed me and for the longest time my sanity were slipping and it hanged precariously over a gaping cliff. I hated and loved him in equal measure and I struggled with a myriad of emotions all in one day. The whole situation was incomprehensible to me, it couldn't have happened, my son couldn't be dead. I soothed his pain while he was growing up, he was not only my son but my best friend. I felt that I completely failed him and I wasn't worthy to have been his mother.

I am not judging anyone for feeling desolate and contemplating suicide because I have been there countless times without thinking about the effect it will have on my family. Anything that happens in our lives never lasts forever even unbearable pain and suffering come to an end. Right after Emile took his own life he got a fantastic job offer but it was too late and he was gone forever. Everything started happening the way he wanted it but he couldn’t wait just a little longer.

I was lost in absolute madness with grief and I don't wish that state of existing for even my worst enemy. Families are torn apart because everyone feels guilt and regret about their relationship with the person who left in this way. Not only do they blame themselves but each other and most families can’t survive it.

You are wonderful and uniquely made and you deserve an amazing life and if you can hold on for a while longer and brave the storms of your life, you will be so happy you did. You are a warrior, a soldier and I implore you to take up your sword and fight your demons. There is no struggle in life that you can’t overcome because you mean the word to countless people. You are stronger than you can imagine my beautiful friend. Every person, including you are an important piece of the puzzle we call life. If you take your own life you remove an intricate and vital part of the meaning of life. Please don't give up and give in to the hateful siren that is suicide. Don't let it lure you into thinking it is the best thing to do, suicide is a vicious liar and will steal away your life with that last step into madness.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I want to see feelingly...

In the documentary Earthlings Joaquin Phoenix narrated Shakespeare with these words: King Lear; “How do you see the world?” and Gloucester, who was blind answers: “I see it feelingly”. These words mean so much to me because if only we could see the world feelingly instead of from our own preconceived ideas.  If we could feel with our hearts the pain others feel when we look at them, this planet would become the most compassionate and loving place in the Universe.

No person will be able to hurt another person or innocent animals because they will feel their pain and suffering. It would be impossible to act without remorse if we could experience the pain we inflict. Empathy would become a way of life not just a word not many people don't even understand. 

Then we would care for others deeply and not experience selfish and conceited emotions about everything around us. I think when we die we become those words, we see feelingly. We sense with deep compassion and unconditional love for all creatures in the Universe. Earthly emotions like want, need, hate, jealousy, pride, pain and all the other human sensations fall away from us like the body we leave behind.

Can you imagine how powerful and overwhelming our consciousness is when we become aware of the only the goodness of it all? To be able to feel only adoration for the creation and all that it is, no negative, just holiness consuming your very being. At a funeral of a friend the pastor said that he envies the person lying in the casket for seeing all that he so much wishes to see. I had to agree with him. I wish to experience that too.

However, I think that one day the world will be given that opportunity to see feelingly and know that we are here for a reason and we should love everything and everyone with our whole being. Because like Kahlil Gibran so rightly says we are in the heart of God, and God is only Love.
Blessed Be and Namaste!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'll meet you in that field...

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.

We are so caught up in our preconceived ideas about what life is about that we lose sight of each other. Our differences make us act without compassion and love. Just because someone doesn't have your beliefs or think about life the way you do doesn't mean we can't love and accept each other unconditionally.

There is so much hate in this world because of religion, politics, race, sexual orientation and many more inane mindsets. People kill each other because of these things and they don’t give it a second thought. They feel validated and honorable for doing it. How absurd the human mind is in thinking this way.

We should put our differences aside and look at the person behind all the facades. The one who hurts the way we all do, who laughs at the same irony of life and who loves with the same intensity. There are so many similarities between all of us that we should rather embrace that and love each other for it.

Just be part of humanity and learn to feel compassion and love for all human beings. It can't be that difficult to accomplish. It doesn't matter who or what we are because we are born the same way and one day will die the same.

When death calls for you then you won't mind who sits beside you and hold your hand. At that instant you will see only the human kindness of someone who cares. Let us not wait for that day before we put aside all these things but do it now and love your fellow human being the way it was destined at the time of our creation. Let us all meet in that field.

Blessed Be and Namaste!