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 unafaid.
What would you do if you were not afraid? What could you do if not bound by the possible pitfalls life has laid before us? Fear guides so much of what we do, or choose not to do. The continuing analysis of this poem instructs us on how to handle fear. In fact, part three of this historic poem gives us some perspective on fear that I hope you all consider in your academic, personal, professional, and spiritual lives. As we approach the finals season, and the close of 2011, many students are afraid of what will be – others are afraid of the possibility of failure, or having a tough conversation with their parents/loved ones about their future. Some of us are afraid to approach that person we have been eyeballing all semester from across the room. We know full well that the end of the semester marks the end of what could have been with that person, as we may not ever see them again. Yet we sit afraid to say, to do, or to act in any way that will move our future forward with intentionality and purpose.
The power of Invictus lies in the common theme of overcoming despite trouble ahead. In fact, much of the poem states clearly the trouble that is to come, recognizes it, and then claims victory anyway. That’s the attitude we must adopt in every walk of our lives. Notice also the desperation in the current moment being experienced by the author as he lives in a current “place of wrath and tears.” Looming ahead is nothing but the “horror of the shade.” Some of us understand how this feels. Despite your current station in life, be it failing at school or work, unemployment, bad economy, or sick loved ones, you have to dig deep and look beyond that. Now visualize yourself on the other end of whatever hand you’ve been dealt. See that until it comes true. Do not be afraid, be unconquered.