That night, we watched an inspiring movie, Invictus, about Nelson Mandela. In the movie, Mandela recites the poem "Invictus" to help himself through his seemingly never-ending imprisonment. "Invictus" is Latin and means "unconquered".
Invictus. William Ernest Henley.
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.
At first, I focused on the second to last line "I am the master of my fate". I thought that it was delusional. After all, Mandela had lost 27 years of his life due to the tyranny of imprisonment. And, although my case is far less tragic, I've come to believe that I have little control over my spine degeneration and its effects on my future. On that night, I felt like a ship lost at sea, completely out of control of my future. My attitude definitely was not summed up by the phrase "the master of my fate".
But then, I thought about the last line: "I am the captain of my soul.". That provided me with a toehold to keep moving. For Mandela, it meant that his tragic loss of so many years didn't sour his soul. In fact, he even forgave those who imprisoned him. For me, I interpreted it as I CAN control how I react to bad events and how they impact my spirit. More concretely, I do control how I respond to back pain.
On that thought, I decided that we should take our trip. We'd modify it a bit to give me recovery time reclining in a La Fuma chair. However, I knew that simply being in the high mountains would make my spirit soar. So, we headed out with the agreement that we'd go to one locale and stay there until I started feeling better. Thank goodness - I did recover and my pain returned to its familiar level over our first four days high in the Rocky Mountains. I think that surgery can wait a bit longer.
I'll be back to thicker air soon with stories and photos from our trip up in the thin air.