Thursday, July 15, 2010

Invictus - I am the Master of my Fate

Recently I watched the movie Invictus which starred Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.  Mandela spent almost 30 years in a South African prison, a victim of the oppression of apartheid.  While in prison,Mr. Mandela lived the expression: "though you chain my body, you cannot control my mind and soul".

In the movie Mandela relates that when times were the worst, threatening to bring him to his knees in despair, he was carried through by the poem "Invictus".

Written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley, here is it for you:

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.

Truly inspiring, and worthy of meditation by us all.

But I do not want to leave you with only the poem.  I encourage you to contemplate its spiritual aspects for life, as Mr. Mandela obviously did.  Upon his release from prison, Mr. Mandela continued the work of ending apartheid.  In 1994 he was elected President.

Now began the work of rebuilding a nation and bringing together its peoples after years of hatred, violence, and mutual distrust between Black and White, rich and poor, the oppressor and the oppressed.  Mr. Mandela united his country behind, (of all things), their all White, continually losing national rugby team. 

As both the team and the country moved beyond past conflicts to a common shared belief, the team went on to win the World Cup of Rugby in 1995.  As Mr. Mandela told his daughter in the movie:  the mistakes of the past are not overcome by continuing them into the future, but by forgiveness and unity born of common strengths.

Mr. Mandela not only voiced these principles but lived them, while encouraging a nation to do the same.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We're All Okay

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be
We're all okay
And not to worry
'cause worry is wasteful
in times like these

The above is a lyric from the song "Hands" on Jewel's CD entitled Spirit. I love Jewel's lyrics - which do shine with Spirit - expressing aspects of us all that I often contemplate - those places where we are wonderfully different and then again, those where we are deliciously the same.  Music is an expression of both - often moving us from a place of separation back to an awareness of the Gifts of Spirit.

One of the things about isolation and (supposed) inactivity is that it can undermine the value you place upon yourself - especially in a society such as America where we are all supposed to be "out there" striving and earning to get the next big thing.  For a long while now I have worried over this issue.  A while ago it was from a place of deep despair, believing I was no longer of any "use" to anyone or anything.

As I strive now to move myself from that place, I still face the obstacles of the fears and habits I have developed over a lifetime and the "lifetime" of supposed mental illness. Currently these obstacles still seem to block the path of my "being out there"(face to face) in just about any capacity - socializing, volunteering, working.

Some days the sheer boredom of sitting in the same place, staring at the same four walls, (while outside the weather is gorgeous) - alone with no one to talk to - drives me to distraction, creates a frustration and determination to do differently - to move forward - to find something of value that I can do.

Sometimes that's a good thing.  Recently I had a solid few weeks of eating healthy (even lost a few pounds), feeling strong and confident mentally, and calm, relaxed, and peaceful emotionally and spiritually.  I found the will to work on things that had been put off for a long while and the determination to move forward in other areas.  I saw new possibilities and acted upon them!

And then something happened.  Not sure what.... A culmination of a number of things probably.  The new possibilities didn't pan out, my vision of what and how much I could do was larger than the day to day reality of my old habits.  I slid back into a week of lost faith and tears.  One step forward, two steps back.

No, that's not right.  That would be a negative (-1) situation.  Perhaps its:  TWO steps forward and one step back.  For my faith has never left me.  And I have my children who remind me that they "will not accept that I am low, used up and cannot come back".  Thank you my blessed ones.  Nor then, can I.  A plus (+1) situation then.... for here I am.... saying hello again... in spite of it all.

I haven't given up.  I'm still pleased with the gains made.  I took a little side detour.  Iyanla Vanzant calls them "peaks and valleys" and reminds us we all have them.  I'm still heading for the next peak and I'll reach it when the time is right.

Sometimes you have to accept what is.  Sometimes when seeming obstacles keep blocking our path, we might then consider that there is a reason beyond that we can see for what currently is.  In the time spent accepting what is, we learn patience.  We don't concede our desires - we relax into another viewpoint.

It's called - Being Okay with Who we are and Where we are.  Even beyond that, it's called Loving and Accepting Who and Where we are, regardless of "Where we are".  It's doing what we can, from wherever we are, while waiting for the opportunities for growth to present themselves.  And trusting that those opportunities will be given.

When I return from the Valley, I recognize it by the release of fear and worry.

Toward the end of this song Jewel sings: 
In the end
only Kindness matters

I'm reminded of another quote, a poem perhaps, by (I don't remember who) that says: "If there is some little kindness I can do...."

What I can do is present this blog.  

(So called) mental illness and isolation can make you feel so different from everyone else.  Maybe much of what I post here is different from the "average" person's day to day.  But I also think there is much in the ways we are the same

When we no longer fear our differences, but celebrate the wonder of them - and embrace the places we are the same - we move closer in understanding and kindness.

Blessings my friends...

We're All Okay 

(Please note the links to Amazon in this post are not an attempt to make money. I have no affiliation in place - only provided the links if you have interest in more info)