Thursday, January 07, 2010

Invictus


Recently I finished reading Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpa. The final story in the collection, from which the title got its name, is a powerhouse of a finish. It made a great impact within me now, too, as I’ve been thinking a lot about my father and his trip to Rwanda in 1994. 1994 was the milestone in Rwanda for the genocide which is almost unimaginable to grasp. According to records, over the course of about 100 days (April – July), at least half a million people were killed, and estimates have suggested as much as 20% of the Rwandan population. Tribal tensions were built into bonfires of fear and aggression, and the history of the trail of thought into action is a fascinating one, just as each person’s path, creating “points of power,” can be fascinating to study as we live our ives. The Nigerian with the “underwear bomb” is one example I think of, as I watch the news and the stories continue to unravel a history, a life, a path of one man’s mind and its ripple effects as a living energy in the world today. I haven’t yet seen the film Invictus, but watching the trailers, seeing Morgan Freeman in the role of Nelson Mandela, absorbing the scenes and the energy ripples of South Africans who lived these times and the changes they were willing to make to “better” their world, inspires me. What courage! “Taking the high road,” staying the course of the Ethical Values which make us human is not always an easy task, yet its rewards are infinite, and everlasting.

I looked up "Invictus" and learned the Latin definition ("unconquered") and also found William Ernest Henley's 1888 poem. The poem's title, "Invictus," was added by Arthur Quiller-Couch in 1900 (The Oxford Book of English Verse). History says Henley wrote the 1875 poem from a hospital bed (he had tuberculosis of the bone, and his leg was amputated below the knee.)The last two lines of the poem are, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." One main Google reference to this quote is Napoleon Hill's best-selling "Think and Grow Rich." It feels good to connect the dots to deeper layers of history, knowing, culture...dig deeper...

As 2010 begins, I think of these examples. I feel the very real horror, fear, and despair so skillfully displayed by Akpan in his stories of these African children, and "their" adults in the throes of change. I feel the weight within our history of these atrocities, and the call within us to rise to a “higher order” of life and living. To keep the peace and calm within my own life, as I love the laughter that rises inside, is to cultivate and nurture the ethical energy within me and in my world. Children trust love as true. They remind us what broken promises mean, how such broken dreams crush the vision and world we imagine is real. As my mother was dying I watched her absolute will to love, as she resolved to eat when she could, because she knew she must, and because she knew her twin sister loved her as she fixed something she might want and that might satisfy in that moment of need. When I feel small frustrations within me, with some detail of my life, I remember these things. I feel the courage of love, the absolute power of simply being guided by love. I take another sip of delicious black coffee, and thank those who grew the harvest, and those all along the way who brought it “to my feet.” What a pleasure.

1 comment:

Mary Anne said...

very well said, thank you for the reminder.