I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. –William Ernest Henley (English Poet 1849-1903).
These are the last two lines in an originally untitled poem. The now-familiar title Invictus (Latin for unconquered) reportedly was added by Arthur Quiller-Couch when he included the poem in The Oxford Book of English Verse (1900).
While visiting my cousin in South Africa some years ago, I traveled to Robbins Island and stood in the cell that Nelson Mandela had occupied for so many years. The guide explained how important Invictus had been to Mandela. He reportedly pondered it frequently during his 9,000-plus days of incarnation, especially those last two lines.
That visit was reawakened in memory when I watched the film Invictus. As you no doubt already know, the movie—starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon—is the story of Mandela’s early struggles to unite his country of South Africa. Those challenges are presented through the story of the Springbok team’s preparation for, and eventual winning of, the World Cup in 1995. They were led by rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon).
Brian Moore commented about the movie: “One critic, David Ansen, has written that the story is ‘one that would be hard to believe if it were fiction. The wonder of Invictus is that it actually went down this way.’ It is still too early to assess the true significance of that triumph and the part rugby played in the unification of post-apartheid South Africa, but nobody should doubt that its influence was real.”
I decided to craft my own Invictus for 2010: to remind me to walk my own path, avoid being a victim of circumstance, and live a balanced brain-friendly lifestyle.
I am mentor of my mind, shaman of my soul, and conductor of my life symphony.
Write your own personal Invictus. Read it aloud several times a day. Make this first year in the second decade of the 21st Century the very best yet!