Monday, October 7, 2013

Invictus

People who have been to jail have a tendency to let the experience either harden their hearts or beat them into submission. I have never allowed it to do either. Some days I would be jaded, of course. Some days I'd wonder what the point was in making an effort to change...But these extremes would pass, as all extremes do. 

I am endeared to the poem Invictus (Latin for unconquered) but William Ernest Henley. It is four short and powerful stanzas about remaining undefeated by circumstance. 

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.

Mr. Henley captures that rare and indestructible quality of the individual at odds with the world. The opportunity to "give up" is ever present...and it would probably make one's life easier. To borrow from a much bigger picture: Is safety worth freedom? That is to say, is it worth it for one to give up one's struggle for acceptance into the herd? Not this guy. 

I said all that to say this: I have not allowed myself to become either beaten or embittered by the system. I have not forsaken my humanity. I am not without feeling or depth or hope. 

Here I stand, on my patch of Route 422. Many years and memories leading up to this. I stand firm, I am still I. I feel love and I feel motivation. I feel righteous contempt and I feel a desire to question everything. I am what I always have always had the potential to be. 

I am unconquered.