In honor of Nelson Mandela, I am reposting my first work after my 2012 sabbatical. When I returned to writing, I had changed the name to ‘Living Life to the Best of Your Disability.’ Changing my Blog’s name again to the name you see today. No matter how many name changes, Nelson Mandela was my inspiration for moving forward in my life, his story helped build the foundation of my mission.
Sometimes I need to go back to the beginning to reach the next step–
Hope you enjoy.
Today seems most appropriate to launch my new blog, Living Life to the Best of Your Disability. The theme streaming across the pixels and airwaves and memories of iconic leader Martin Luther King, Jr. of equality cradles hope for authentic equality and inclusion of the disabled worldwide.
I have taken a yearly sabbatical. My post will provide the excitement, the lulls and the realizations I discovered along my path toward living my life to the best of my disability.
On this day, a day marked with beginnings and endings-I am grateful for all who came before, are already here and are yet to come on this magical journey.
“You pick.” She placed the remote control on our shared living room throw pillow. The top-heavy plastic dipped in my grasp until I garnered physical dexterous command over the device. I scrolled down our saved DVR list. Some movies we saved for over one year either too violent for our senses or too juvenile to admit for public eyes. Saved for over six months, I hit “Invictus.”
Finally ready to engage in the story of two men cultivating cooperation through sport to shift a national perspective. The movie brought me to tears but tears had become a part of my everyday routine. Like a pregnant woman craves grapes or cinnamon toast, I craved tears.
For what reason, I had no idea.
A pregnant woman knows a child is forthcoming.
Invictus is a poem. During Nelson Mandela’s twenty-seven year incarceration for crimes against South Africa, Invictus provided him on-going, life-sustaining inspiration.
Invictus (written by William Ernest Henley circa: 1875)
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.
Poetry is a language close to my heart. I understood poetry before I understood modern English. Poetry is my first love. Having studied American Literature, I had less exposure to English Literature. I turned to the Internet and printed Invictus. The rhyming message uplifts my mind, body and soul. The hard copy rests beneath my mouse pad. Semi-circular coffee rings along the corners lend an abstract tilt to the four stanza piece. The poem is forever at my fingertips, in eternal eye view. The movie inspired in part from a century long poem looped across the premium cable channel and I watched every moment I could.
Cried every time in all the same places where injustice or poverty or enlightenment or understanding or triumph leapt across the screen. During each ending, I danced to the rhythmic music as succinct as the movie title’s stanzas.
And I never danced.
Not at weddings, unless I was a bridesmaid upholding a time-honored tradition.
Not at dance clubs in my twenties.
Not at Writer’s Conference After-Parties.
My arthritic body did not move properly. No dancing~~until Invictus.
Swaying my replaced joints anticipating the start of the film the words, ‘Based upon the novel Playing the Enemy by John Carlin, scrolled down the screen. I scribbled the title on a piece of junk mail.
But who was I kidding.
I hadn’t read a book in over a year. I used to read insatiably. I’d changed, somehow, somewhere along the calendar year I stopped reading. Instead, I made plans away from the cushy couch and my bed strewn with tossed pillows in all shapes and sizes to prop my replaced shoulders and inflexible fingers and wrists to read more comfortably or at least with less physical pain and stiffness fallout.
I used to write insatiably too. I dropped blogging in a conscious effort to live my life to the best of my disability.
Excursions. Fun, educational and physically challenging mini-trips. Overnight stomps in Times Square, Cape May, East Stroudsburg, PA.
Diagnosis; Adult/Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid since infancy at nine months old. Crippling pain defined my childhood. Overhearing the doctor prepare my mother that the best he could expect for me was life in a wheelchair sounded like the vacuum packed seal of my Fate. By eleven years old, medicine offered me and my family no hope for a better future.
By forty-five, I decided to create opportunities to validate hope for my present and my future. Excursions worked.
Then Key Largo called.
Yes, a restful, relaxing, extended vacation with my sister was the booked ticket. We both needed rejuvenation. She filled her carry-on with books. I placed the library book Playing the Enemy in the front zippered suitcase pocket.
Sometime between the glorious sunset and the last half of the book, the epiphany sang inside my head like a chorus of angels.
Nelson Mandela never denounced his color, he embraced himself fully. Instead, he denounced the oppression of his people, fully.
He transcended his rage, fury, anger to transcend his country.
Therein incubated my unborn truth.
I spent a great deal of energy throughout my life pretending not to be disabled, masking my deformities, hiding an aspect of myself from myself and the world.
I spent a great deal of energy enraged by the injustices endured by the disabled population. The invisible, unheard, neglected handicapped population sustaining injustices never seen or spoken of by either the able-bodied or disabled.
With positive excursions under my belt, I anchored myself within this seraphim symphony.
I felt ready to release the anger.
Ready to unleash my authenticity.
And the damning weight of half a century melted like a consecrated candle. A blessing. A new way to move forth within the world. A rebirth. I am free to fully embrace my disability and denounce the oppression of my people.
Now the true work begins.
Post-Script: One Step Past the Introduction and One Step Closer to the Belief.
As I had done months ago, I discovered the poem Invictus on the Internet www.wikipedia.com. In my copy and paste protocol for this Introduction, I chose focused upon the article in its entirety. Not simply the four stanza poem. I read the brief history of the poet. I’ve included the newest research from www.wikipedia.com for the richness and synchronicity toward the theme of Epiphany!
At the age of 12, Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 17. Stoicism inspired him to write this poem. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.
The poem was written in 1875 in a book called Book of Verses, where it was number four in several poems called Life and Death (Echoes). At the beginning it bore no title. Early printings contained only the dedication To R. T. H. B.—a reference to Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce (1846–1899), a successful Scottish flour merchant and baker who was also a literary patron. The title “Invictus” (Latin for “unconquered”) was put in The Oxford Book of English Verse by editor Arthur Quiller-Couch.
The Universe has game, right?
**Published by Insights, Vol. Three, Number Two, Summer 2012
Invictus under my mousepad and my fingertips within reading glasses field of vision
Excursion Photographs CAPE MAY, NJ
Harry Potter Exhibit-Times Square, NY, NY
Times Square Hotel Room with a View
Key Largo, FL
Maryland, my Maryland
East Stroudsburg, PA
Me in Key Largo with my ‘Epiphany! smile on.’