William Henley, the English poet, contracted tuberculosis when he was 12. Later he had to have his leg amputated.
After the amputation, he wrote a poem "Invictus," in which he speaks of what most people desire— to be in control of their lives.
Out of the night that covers me black as the pit from pole to pole I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud Under the bludgeonings of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed
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, unafraid
It matters not how strait the gate how charged with punishments the scroll I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul
Henley was so bold and defiant, that he became the inspiration for Long John Silver.
His friend Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote him…
I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver...the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound was entirely taken from you.
He may have been dreaded in his day. He may have defied death. But in the end, Henley was not the master of his fate or captain of his soul. He’s been dead for over a century.
You see, as much as the humanists, the secularists, the atheists, the William Henleys of life want to control what happens to them, they can’t.
We can’t even control the biggest events in our lives.