27 August 2010


My company had a mandatory meeting today- in a movie theater. Naturally, a movie followed the meeting. It made for a very long day, and I was less than cheerful to attend, since this meant extra travel and making baby sitting arrangements for my child. Plus, I'm a movie snob and the movie was a secret. I feared the employees would be forced to watch some lame chick flick (no offense, chick flick lovers!).
As it turned out, the meeting was brief, and the movie was an underdog story: "Invictus." The story is that of apartheid-era South Africa and Nelson Mandela's use of the national rugby team to unite a nation. The movie itself was nice enough. But I cried during and after, and probably will again. President Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his political beliefs, then rallied for and forgave the very people who put him in prison. In the movie (don't quote me on real-life), Mandela says the words of a poem are what carried him through his darkest hours of captivity on Robben Island.

The title of the movie "Invictus," is take from a poem written by the English poet William Ernest Henley in 1875. In Latin, invictus means unconquerable or undefeated. There are days when I feel so defeated. Defeated by my job, by my own inner feelings & thoughts, by my perceived lack of skill (pick a subject- parenting, design, patience...), by the world in general, by the laundry pile. I slog through, I make sure I don't cry, and I repeat each day over and over again. Sometimes it is dark and lonely. Sometimes, lesser so.

When I heard, then read this poem, I was so moved. It reminded me of what matters: our souls. The value of our souls is great in the sight of the Lord. Our souls are what belong solely to us. They are unique to us, and should be cherished and nourished. Regardless of our travails and sorrows, frustrations, or just bad days, we- I- need to remember that I am the captain of my soul. I control whether or not I bow down under adversity. Bad things happen. Life is not fair. And such is this mortal coil. But our souls, our spirits- they are truly unconquerable. We just need to remind ourselves of this indisputable fact.

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. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a poem!! And a great reminder of how much control I really do have. I loved it. I might just have to see that movie now.