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Jan 28 2012

It Gets Better – Invictus



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 Henley


William Henley’s teenage life was a terrible one, as he suffered from tuberculosis until aged 20 he had both legs amputated due to miliary TB. The surgery was done prior to the widespread usage of ether and Henley did not have any anaesthetic while they sawed through his legs to save his life.

When lying in a dark room recovering from the horrific procedure, Henley wrote a poem to strengthen his resolve into words. William Henley went on to becoming a successful lawyer graduating from Oxford.

And the words of Henley live on in us. When I am at my lowest, I often read this poem to gain the fortitude and indeed focus my own desires to make the changes that I want or tough it out. When ever I felt like giving up, the words would come to me and encourage me to fight harder. I learnt about this poem from Nelson Mandela.

Mandela would write this poem down every single day he was in jail. When they took away his freedom it kept him free. When they took away his pen and paper, he carved it into the desk.

And I want to share that with people. Maybe they will see the same meaning in these words. In the idea that someone is truly their own master and that we can survive the odds. That no matter how bad things are we can do better and we can do something to make it better. Maybe it will encourage some person to keep trying to reach their goals. Maybe it will help some kid bullied at school to not let it hurt as much and give him the strength to persevere.

Because nothing describes humanity better than Invictus. Unconquerable. We are the only species that sought to get hit by lightning to see if it could be done and then did it again simply to see if it was just dumb luck or does lightning behave the same way every single time. And then we went off to see how we could make and use our own lightning.

And yes, every single one of us is capable of all the good things that we so desire. Love, Compassion, Care, Kindness, Honour, Intelligence and all those other conditions that we so desire. And it all comes from the fact that one of our best strengths is that we will not give up. The words that hurt us have meaning to us, then these words can have meaning too.

It does get better. Do not give up. 

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