If you have been around Crossfit or any military training, no doubt you have heard of the poem Invictus. It’s not the most elegant poem ever written and I’m sure Dr. Burger would have some more academically critical commentary as to why. It’s a simple poem with straightforward imagery. I like its simplicity.
About 6-7 years ago I got into a kick to organize my life. It started by formalizing my list system. I have lists for everything, including daily checklists. For the past 4 years I have recited Invictus daily, out loud. Sure I miss it here and there, but it’s on my checklist, so I’m usually on top of it. Each day I take a second to think about what part is most meaningful to me and take stock in that feeling. I am no poet nor an expert in creative writing, but I thought it would be interesting to break down each section and how it can relate to my emotional state.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
Sometimes there is darkness and despair all around us. And it feels so immense that it blankets not just us, but covers the whole world (pole to pole).
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
I don’t know what in this world gives me the confidence, hope and spirit to carry on in spite of the darkness, but I do it anyway. I trust in my strength.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Even when life has me by the neck and I am struggling to break free of the demons, I never let the evil know that it has hurt me. I keep my pain to myself. Nothing can hold me down.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
It could be bad luck that strikes at us. It causes injury, it leaves a mark, but I keep my head high and face whatever life throws at me.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Yes life is hard, everything we do is effort and struggle. Embrace the suck..
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And what do we have to look forward to? Old age, slowing down, our bodies getting more fragile. “the shade.” I love thinking of slowing down and getting old as something so horrible that I must fight back at it..
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
I know that I am going to keep my mind and body in top shape so that the effects of age will not slow me down. I fear nothing.
It matters not how strait the gate,
It doesn’t matter how crazy of a path we choose in life, or whether we wander in search of the path, we are always moving in the direction of our own life’s purpose.
How charged with punishments the scroll,
All of the lessons in life, the mistakes we made, the lapses in judgment, they hurt, they cause regret, they make us think and ponder their meanings to always be gaining from them, because…
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
I control my destiny, and NO ONE can take my spirit.