Invictus

In honor of Nelson Mandela’s Birthday I decided to share something very special that we have in common.

As most of you are aware, I’m a Latin Nerd, so of course my favorite poem would be titled accordingly. Invictus means unconquerable or undefeated. Written by English poet, William Ernest Henley in 1875. For those who aren’t familiar with this poem here it is:

Sitting at the top of my spiral staircase, On PINK canvas (Of course)

Henley, much like Mandela, had a fierce unconquerable spirit. He actually wrote Invictus in the hospital waiting to undergo his second amputation. The doctors told him he had developed tuberculosis of the bone at age 12 and eventually amputated one of his legs to the knee, they informed him he would have to have the other leg amputated if he survived. Henley told the doctors that they were full of hogwash. He ended up not going through with the second amputation and led an active life with one leg as well as a successful career as a poet and literary critic. Henley was truly the master of his fate and the captain of his soul.

As an individual who suffers from MDD, PTSD, OCD, and severe anxiety I began to recite this poem in my more difficult moments. Whether it’s mentally or out loud it calms and soothes me. So, it has become a little ritual of mine to recite it if I’m starting to get nervous, before I take on something big, during a panic attack, before public speaking, or a job interview, just to name a few. I got this tattoo as a graduation present to myself and added a compass, which comes from my special charm bracelet so I’ll never lose sight of the fact that I am indeed the master of my fate!

Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for his anti-apartheid activism. He would recite Invictus nearly every day because it kept his hope alive. Morgan Freeman portrayed Mandela in the 2009 film, Invictus. During an interview with Charlie Rose, Freeman explained the poem’s significance. “When he lost courage, when he felt like just giving up — just lie down and not get up again — he would recite it. And it would give him what he needed to keep going.”

HOPE.

I’m a major proponent of the scientific studies that show keeping rituals increase performance, reduces anxiety, and helps individuals lead more healthy and productive lives. If this doesn’t do it for you, I’d encourage you to find something that does, memorize it and start your own personal ritual.

14 comments

  1. The poem is a good one. I’ve never been one for rituals, but I have so many rituals because I’m a slave to my cats, birds and wife. My wife has lots of mantras and rituals, but for me, I recite the Lord’s Prayer. While I don’t go along with most modern Christianity (I’ve been thrown out of four Methodist churches for my heretical points of view, which, by the way, is more along the lines of first century Christianity. But yes you heard it right Methodist churches), I love the Lord’s Prayer. “…Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven…” is a constant reminder that I’m supposed to do my part to make the world a better place, and to be forgiving where forgiveness is appropriate. I am forever falling into temptation. I’m not going to lie about it, there are just so many tempting and fun things in this world, that although I might pray not to be lead into temptation, I so much enjoy so many things in life the stoics, ascetics, and monastics deprive themselves of, that I freely use my own free will to enjoy life’s pleasures. I’ve come to damn close to dying to be an ascetic, or even feel guilty about falling into temptation. However, while I do fall into temptation quite often, I do want to be delivered form evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Lord’s Prayer is very comforting. I learned it when I was very young so it’s deeply ingrained. Thrown out? Geez, Timothy (or do you prefer Tim?) You make me think of that old song by The Crystals He’s a Rebel. Hehehe

      Sounds like you have your something.

      “monastics deprive themselves of, that I freely use my own free will to enjoy life’s pleasures.” I respectfully disagree with your words here but that’s my Philosophy Degree coming out. To be honest I just woke up it’s not even 3 am my time. Gonna try to get some more sleep before I explain why I respectfully disagree. Just stand by one. I’ll get back to ya soon 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You said, “I so much enjoy so many things in life the stoics, ascetics, and monastics deprive themselves of, that I freely use my own free will to enjoy life’s pleasures. I’ve come to damn close to dying to be an ascetic, or even feel guilty about falling into temptation.”

        I wouldn’t say they deny themselves that because they too, have made a choice, so it’s not denial to them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that poem Eleanor – I must jot it down somewhere. As for rituals it’s wonderful advice. I’m a big believer in the power of routine. I have two – a morning routine to get me rocking in the morning – and also an evening routine one for finishing the day strong. I found it has helped me tremendously with my demons too. Wishing you well 🙏🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it! I appreciate the comment as well. It’s always nice to know when my words resonate with others, it’s a great encouragement. Hope you had a good weekend! 😉

      Like

  3. Invictus is so inspiring!

    I think what grounds me is space in my day for quiet time. I use it to organize, vent and write my feelings out. And then write a self acceptance note before I tear it up and get on with my day. And daily meditation.

    Now, both are a comforting habits that I hold close. Glad you have your own. They help.

    Liked by 1 person

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