First, I want to thank all of you who showed such an outpouring to my blog, “Life is a Roller Coaster” by Alex Schacter. It was truly inspirational to read your comments. I consider myself a thinker. I have a curious mind, much like the National Enquirer. This brings me to William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus”. Invictus means undefeated or unconquerable. As a matter of fact, Henley had tuberculosis of the bone and had his foot amputated right before he wrote it in 1875. The most famous lines from the poem are the last two; “I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul!”
As an educator for the past 35 years, I have used this quote for almost every class I taught. The question is whether you agree entirely with Henley’s last two lines. I certainly am not the right person to answer it. I am a former drama teacher who decided to write a children’s book about a drama teacher and was lucky enough to find a great publisher. www.brucepweinberg.com. (end of plug)
I think the bigger question is what pushes us to want to do more. I totally get Max Schacter, Ryan Petty and Lori Alhadeff. Their strength and determination after the shootings moved them to action at a time when they could have done far less. I was blown away by the Stoneman Douglas students in the wake of this tragedy. Their “March for our Lives”, town hall meetings and performance at the Tony Awards was inspirational. Invictus was Nelson Mandela’s favorite poem despite spending 27 years of his life in prison. Gandhi was also imprisoned for his beliefs. Martin Luther King also followed Henley’s words despite tremendous opposition.
So, what makes each one of us rise from those terrible times? What motivates us to be better and try harder? Live each day to the fullest? Unfortunately, I have hit some very low moments, but when I climbed out, I did so with vision and laser focus. I wanted to be the best husband, father, and teacher that I could be and I was driven to do so. Now, I want to live life to the fullest. The character Mr. B is funny and quirky but he also teaches lessons and provokes thought. I retired from teaching at the age of 64 but I knew I was meant for more and a year and a half later, eleven more Mr. B stories were penned. I can’t predict the success of the Mr. B books but It is exciting for the first one to launch in 7 days!
So are we “the master of our fates and the captain of our souls” I’m sure scholars have discussed this one for years and maybe it’s a question I will pose to my rabbi! In the meantime, I wish all of you a year filled with health, happiness, and much introspection.