I watched the movie, Invictus, last night…for the second time. No, I’m not going to review the movie, nor am I here to wax political about Nelson Mandela. The poem, and the movie, resonated with me on deeper levels, more personal levels, for reasons of my own which are far removed from the movie.
Here is the poem:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~ William Ernest Henley
No, I’ve not spent the very best years of my life confined in a cell barely larger than the width of my arms fully extended. I’ve not been beaten or lived among the daily occurrence of bombs falling about my ears. I haven’t gone off to school happily one day only by the end of the day to find my parents were decimated when a plane flew into their office building. I haven’t narrowly escaped an earthquake only to witness my home and a large portion of my small but beautiful country and a large part of it’s inhabitants disappear beneath the resulting tsunami.
No, I’ve been fortunate. I am truly grateful. Yet, saying that I should be grateful that I haven’t experienced worse trouble when I am experiencing my own trouble, is a bit like telling a child to eat everything on his/her plate because there are children starving in other parts of the world. It denies the reality of my current experience and it doesn’t help those who are suffering in other parts of the world one little bit.
So, I’ll conclude with this, my own little trouble is enough for me to deal with right now. I don’t want to eat it. I really don’t feel like taking one more bite of it. I’m full and don’t want to finish. The starving kids elsewhere can have it. Sadly, I have to sit through this particular dinner hour. This poem is a bit like the other good stuff on my plate. I can deal with the not so good as long as I remember to taste this once in a while. After all, I choose how I deal with the unsavory aspects of my life and my choices chart the course for my soul and often determine my fate.