Ernest William Henley said something that caught my attention, something that made me begin to think. This isn’t as a result of it being emotionally charged and filled with deeper meanings. Mainly, it’s because I want to know if it’s actually true.
He said this, in the last two lines of the poem called Invictus: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
Am I really? Do I really have control over my fate; my soul? Is everything that happens in my life contingent on the fate I’ve created as a result of the soul that I have crafted? By twenty-one, I was supposed to have it all figured out. I was supposed to be best friends with my siblings and parents. I planned to be in love. I planned to be invincible.
I don’t think so. I never mapped out a future that took so many stops along the way. In fact, when I go on road trips, I want to get to where I am going as fast as I can, hardly enjoying any of the scenery along the way. So when looking at my life, in relation to what I’ve done, where I’ve been and where I’m going, I don’t really how it happened.
If I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul, then I am not very good at it. If this is where I am, because of who I have been, then Henley would say I have no one to blame but myself. I don’t believe this to be true, that I am in totally control. It is my duty to my fate and soul to do the best job to figure out who I am intended to be. I need to learn what drives me to take the actions I do, in order to achieve a deep and meaningful likeness for who I will become, the journey I will take, and what I will reap from it as I go.
My parents raised us in a solid Christian based home. From very early on, we’d go to church on Sunday and pray for every meal. But more than that, we were taught how much we needed God in our lives. A direction, a path, led not by my own eyes but by the footprints Christ set before me. Morals, values, and proper actions stemmed from this. However, I never found Christianity for myself. I never claimed God or faith because I didn’t know what it meant and I chose not to. I had confirmation of my life and direction from adults I respected, coaches, employers who showed me what they knew and helped me. But ultimately, I had no one question me and no standards I was challenged to meet. Quite honestly, I had met and gone beyond the ones I was required to meet. I had it figured out.
And I hated it.
God got my attention, really and truly, for the first time in my life. It felt good knowing that through all the obstacles or misunderstandings life throws my way, God gives me no more than I can handle but neither does he expect for me to handle it alone. And now I know my life is directed by someone I believe who sends me challenges and difficulties in order for me to work to deserve his love and be worthy of him stepping in to captain my soul. No matter how big or small of part we contribute, we can’t do it on our very own. Our fate lies in our hands only as far as we can throw the “ball”. Sometimes, it can be nothing we can handle, such as some medical conditions. I wonder if Henley took into account cancer patients, women who miscarry babies or give birth to stillborns, or those in accidents.
The key point here is this: as much as I don’t believe that I am not the master of my fate, I do believe I have a say in it. We have to embrace what happens to us in order for it not to be the same in the future. What takes place are constant learning curves that are thrown here to test how we learn from them; how to embrace what is to come. My dad told me once “if you never set yourself up for anything, you will never be disappointed.” Be mindful of the fact that you never know what is going to happen. To be prepared for whatever may come. I believe that this is the only way that I can be in control of my fate and soul, by being ready for anything.
As I am sure now, my life has nowhere near turned out the way I had it “planned”. I’ve been to what seems like the moon and back on this trip to the ending means of my fate; to discovering the true capabilities of my soul.
I think anyone who will take it upon themselves to do all that they can to bind their souls to their fate in a way that the two together, interconnected, to guide their lives and to ensure that whatever the journey is, they truly live it, then this is truly being a master and captain of both. To have shattered prides and be vulnerable to the fact that there is so much to learn. No life is a closed book until it ends. But even then, everyone leaves behind a legacy which is to ultimately be admired and I yearn for the potential in that. The human is a most unique and interesting thing, the trick is to be fascinated by your self. It is only then that mastering a fate can be less cruel and captaining a soul is a constant trek to figuring out truly what it is for me.
Here’s my fate, here’s what contributes to my soul. The unknown. Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be lived. I am not, nor will I ever be, as Henley put it so eloquently, the master of my fate; the captain of my soul. I am not in the driver seat of my life, but rather incorporating every part of what is around me and what will happen in the journey. I am fine tuning the unwritten song for my future. One with a fate I trust because my soul is so easily empowered by what is to come.
That’s it… for now.