Monday, January 30, 2012

I am the captain of my soul

I majored in history in college and took advantage of an accelerated program to earn a master's degree in it as well. However, as my favorite biology professor pointed out on that warm April day when I announced I was switching my major from biology to history, my university only taught, "the history of white people". (This is not the case so much today, but the department still labors under a decided eurocentricity). I loved my program and I tried to round out my world view but I missed a lot. None of my classes really touched Africa and I was too young in the 90s to pay much attention to current events, so I missed the struggles South Africa experienced during that time.

A quiet Friday night with nothing to do but be the proverbial crazy cat lady led me to rent a copy of Invictus. I didn't really know much about Nelson Mandela (indeed I don't know how much about him was fictionalized so I am remedying that by picking up some biographies) but I have to say that I was awestruck by what I did learn. It is unthinkable to me that someone could spend 27 years in prison and come out extolling forgiveness and peace. That, instead of lamenting the time lost, one could unselfishly consider the future of all.

Because I am entirely too self focused, even the story of Nelson Mandela's life makes me think of my own small struggles. I find it so amazing that he could forgive so much so readily but I find it impossible to relinquish the grudges I hold. People have not always been kind to me in my life; some people have hurt me profoundly but the grudge I keep holds the hurt inside for me alone. Those people probably do not know that I harbor the heartache that they caused, and they probably would not care if they did know. That inability to forgive is corroding me from the inside. Worse than my inability to forgive others is my inability to forgive myself.

I feel a great sense of regret when I consider how many years of his life were spent in captivity but it's painful to think of how I squander my freedom. In reality, I can do whatever I want, but I feel utterly imprisoned in a life that I find intolerable. I hate my body and my poor health. I hate my unstable financial situation. I love my friends with all my heart but I hate that they seem not to care much for me. I hate the way I spend my nights, alone in my apartment. I hate the way I am treated at work and that I do not feel my job is a challenge. I hate that I am single though I have tried very hard to meet someone. I hate the rut I have fallen into; the prison my life has begun. I am stuck between feeling I should learn to be satisfied with what I have and thinking that I should bust out of this prison while I can. I know the door is not locked but I can't even seem to find it.

In the meantime, I hope that rambling posts will help me work things out. I only know that something has to change because I have come to feel wildly, desperately unhappy. I know I am the only person who can fix that.

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