invictusOne of my favorite poems is Invictus by William Ernest Henley. The story behind the poem is also impressive: Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone when he was 13. At age 17, physicians had to amputate one of his legs.

Yet he wrote that:

“In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

We often say (or think) that life’s not fair, that life’s complicated. We always seem to spend more time dreaming than trying to achieve those dreams. But the thing is that life’s pretty simple: you live or you survive, and either way you’ll die.

And it’s entirely up to you.

But it’s so damn hard to live, especially in this modern age, when everything is moving so fast. It’s so easy to put your life on auto-pilot, to do the same things over and over again, to keep your head bowed.

Pain exists. And you’ll experience pain whether you want to or not. You’ll suffer, you’ll cry, and most of those things that don’t kill will make you wish they did.

But there’s freedom and clarity to be found in even the most desperate of situations. And more power than you can ever imagine.

A couple of years ago I realized I was just surviving. All I wanted was to have enough money to buy cigarettes and a bottle of Coca Cola. I perfected the art of eating once a day. I had these terrible headaches… and the funny thing about pain is that even if it doesn’t go away, in time you simply don’t care anymore.

You add a few health issues, you take away friends, and there you have it: the perfect recipe for disaster.

I spent most of the day feeling empty and stupid. Hours were reduced to seconds, and the world seemed to be going on without me. Strange feeling… to feel as if you’re been left behind by 7 billion people. You stare in the mirror and see a stranger. And, still, you can’t help yourself… you want to survive. It’s this stupid reflex that’s telling you that you have too much to lose if you give up. “You still have your life,” this voice inside your head tells you. “You still have a heartbeat.”

But during the nights I wrote. Simple as that. I wasn’t really expecting to publish anything. Sometimes I didn’t even have enough courage to dream about becoming published.

You know what’s so special about art? That, above all, you have to believe in yourself. You’re free to do anything you want, as long as you believe you can. It’s freedom that can’t be explained or defined, but only felt.

I began writing because I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be great. I wanted to make so much noise that people would never forget me. And when I lost almost everything except a weak heartbeat, this crazy ambition kept me alive. I had something to fight for.

When I decided to give self-publishing another try, when I decided to blog about stuff, I also decided that I would never give up, no matter what. I had reached a point few people ever reach: I could die or go up. So I decided to go up.

Of course, “never give up” is easier said than done. It’s infinitely easier to write the story than to live it. It’s also quite easy to read the words and discard them as nonsense.

But remember: your life is your own. And don’t be afraid. No one’s trying to kill your dreams. They’re too busy trying to make theirs come true.

No matter who you are or what you have or do, sometimes you’ll feel as if life’s not fair. You’ll find yourself thinking that the life you want is beyond your reach. So you might want to tell yourself, over and over again, as loud as you can:

“I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”


I’d like to thank Joanne and all the other folks who contributed to my campaign and chose to remain anonymous. If you enjoy this blog and would like me to be able to continue to write (and do more) you can contribute (any amount you see fit) here.

Thank you

35 comments on “Invictus

  1. This is one of my favourite poems too. Great post!

  2. A very strange thing..our dreams…

  3. interopia says:

    thanks for sticking with your dreams and inspiring others

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I didn’t know the author of the poem was, like me, that is, crippled. And you’ve got me thinking about the power of art… Diseased, I’ve been isolated and had a couple of brushes with death myself – but I always wanted to keep living. I used to think, “When my weakness and scoliosis get so bad that the day comes when I can’t lift my head off of my left shoulder anymore and I have to go around crumpled and crushed in my wheelchair, then, then, I will want to die.” Well, the day came, my head is flopped, and life is still worth living. I’ve wondered why I keep loving life. Art does have much to do with it. I write (always have, always will find a way to continue) and this gift gives wonder and the fullness of life to my pain and my sorrow.
    So, yeah, my head is literally bowed – but my soul is not. Thank God.

    • Art, whether you make it or simply “consume” it, gives you hope. And art is a matter of faith. You have to, somehow, believe that it’s not just a lie, an illusion. Art is more than real life, and sometimes it means more that real life too.

    • Hi Christina,
      It’s great seeing the encouragement you picked from this piece. This poem has been one of the most inspiring at the darkest moments of my life. And like you, I never knew the author was crippled. I’m not but I’ve been close to suicide a couple of times. I came through the pain and I believe you will (that’s why I called myself the Phoenix,lol). Great post here from Cristian. And hey, you share the same name with my sis. She’s a great girl and I guess you are. I share your courage and will pray for you.


  5. Angie says:

    One of the few poems that I can still fully recite until now. Great post! :-)

  6. “surviving”. “never give up”. easier said than done. easier discard than living. indeed.

  7. Another awesome post!
    I always admire your creativity.
    Nice one!

  8. Hello Cristian! Brilliant and inspirational piece. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you!

  9. bwdell says:

    I like “Invictus” for its courage and determination, and its rhythm, but I do not like its assumption that only “the horror of the shade” lies beyond death, or that “whatever gods may be” are just waiting to punish us. That comes from a dark and despairing place.

  10. Yeah, life can be very painful. But, it sometimes seems like the struggle is worth it even to simply exist. After all, struggle always gives value to that for which we struggle–in this case, life. Then, if we can write a few things to add meaning or beauty to someone’s life, that’s icing on the cake.

  11. Kay Yusof says:

    Great post!

  12. Today, I felt stressed seeing people take certain things, like interpreting a story, somewhat too seriously. I want to make the world a kinder place to live in, but as for now, I should just do my best and have fun in making my circle a kinder place. Thanks very much for this message, Mr. Mihai! It’s helping me wake up again! I can’t control others, but only I can control myself! Time to go for it, and ask help if I need to! Life isn’t something that can be traversed alone, you know!

  13. richamohan says:

    I love Invictus too! Beautifully written.

  14. malvikaashok says:

    I do hope things work out for you and you turn out to be a sensational writer!

  15. Great post, I loved it, I cant say much but I feel it, thanks

  16. Very impressive post.
    “No one’s trying to kill your dreams. They’re too busy trying to make theirs come true”
    Thanks for that.

  17. cloetronaldo says:

    But the thing is that life’s pretty simple: you live or you survive, and either way you’ll die

    Best line ever

  18. directedpath says:

    Thanks for the inspiration to move forward no matter what is happening now or what has happened in the past. Our motivation has to come from within.

  19. bcre8v2 says:

    Great post, Christian. Thanks for the encouragement on a morning when it was most needed.

  20. inspoetry says:

    Invictus is a symbol of the age,
    The marks of disease are on all,
    Only Christ can fill the gap,
    He is the supreme healer,
    He knows our frame and time,
    We were created from the dust,
    Weaknesses can be strengthened,
    One requirement is to love,
    Belief will in turn follow you,
    Your life will have true meaning after all.

  21. I love what you have written – very inspiring and I shall definitely check out invictus

  22. tabithaxx says:

    For a very long time, writing was the only thing that made me feel alive. The stories I wrote were explosive and cathartic, and when I was done, I felt drained and listless once again. The pain and angst fueled me to write — on the days I could even bear to do anything. I’m afraid of failing too, but if I don’t try at all would be even worse. Better to take the risks rather than dream what could happen, right?

  23. Wonderful. I think becoming our dreams is the hardest and most exposing act. But it’s the experience of being human. When you know what you want your soul rings and you have to answer and it can be the most uncomfortable and disturbing thing you can embark. Then one day you wake up taller, brighter and louder because you decided to live outside of fear.

  24. inspoetry says:

    Carpe diem (seize the day) and let God guide you…

  25. Sheila says:

    Very moving, and very brave to be so honest about your struggles. Bravo for your determination to fight for your dreams and to find the will power to keep going! ~ Sheila

  26. upcycleblog says:

    I loved your line “No one’s trying to kill your dreams. They’re too busy trying to make theirs come true.” Eminently quotable

  27. Beautiful. Thank you Cristian.

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