In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better — pushing right back.
Albert Camus is one of my favorite people. A French author and journalist from the mid-20th century, he was a writer, a philosopher, an absurdist. Some called him an existentialist. He wrote and spoke with extraordinary clarity and insight about politics and ethics, war and peace, life and death.
The above poem from Camus forges an inspiring and invincible sentiment within me concerning this life and its many slings and arrows of fate and folly.
How do we think about failure and how do we think about strength? How do we come to define a life of repeated failures? How do we classify someone as a ‘strong’ person? I think there is an inverse between the two, substituting the likely synonyms for each: failure = loss, err, destruction, chaos // strength = success, winning, power, creation. A life marked by failure is a failure; a life full of strength and success is much the same. We all work along a spectrum of these extremes — these binary camps of bad and good. And one experiencing life near one end of it, seems to touch little of its countering tail.
A strong person does not fail. Alternatively, at least a strong person does not experience any of failure’s ill-effects. A strong person keeps going, no matter what, until they succeed, until they are victorious, until they advance, with no continuous heed to the pits of hardship along the way. Failure holds no water, it does not truly influence one so named as strong.
This formulation is not tenable, it is not true. But only when we dig deeper, only when we come into contact and conversation with those we consider as strong, do we find the truth. Unapproached, this perfection is our default summation. For the winners of fate we see from afar, we see only the golden images and words of their victory as the presence of an errless paragon, ascended from out of some nameless, primordial might. We see the winners of today in culture or politic or community as invincible. Unstoppable. Indestructible. Invincible forces of decision, circumstance and influence. They are strong because they crush weakness, in themselves or others. They attack the world within their chosen field, and they win because they are ruthlessly committed to their success. Consciously or not, we emulate them and we yearn to be in their positions.
What of a different kind of invincibility— arriving directly in the face of failures; What of solidarity in solitude — standing up when everyone else sits down and urges you to as well; What of strength in simple persistence?
When we are at the bottom, with all of the rocks and the rabble of defeats and the destructed hopes of dreams and desires, what then? What constitutes ‘strength’ inside of the black pit of depression and despair? What is ‘success’ when there is nothing? Nothing to do, nothing good, nothing bad, nothing to progress towards.
What special name might this invincibility bear in the darkest night of our soul?
Continuity. Continuing to get up and go. Continuing to exist. Continuing unto the breach after every preceding failure. Continuing to wade through the numb nothingness and the visceral pain of the world with a breath for possibility and for anything and everything that may come with your steps and your upkeep. I claim continuity as invincibility. This is the strength that I’d sing about.
After everything you have gone through, you are still here, and that makes you a hero.
It is an embodiment of the message within “Fear is the mind-killer” — that of enduring the fear and pain and madness of this transient existence and consciously choosing to remain upright, standing there on the other side of that killing wave with an indestructible serenity that cannot be taken or destroyed. This unwillingness to fold afore adversity — before, during, and after its presence within our lives — is strength. This is the invincibility we must see lies within us. There is no need to painstakingly seek it out — it is there, in us, lying in wait.
17. FRANK HERBERT: Litany against fear ~ By Gav
What do we look to when there is nothing for us to look forward to? When there is nothing without, the only place to go is within. Inside, let us find that invincible essence — that rise in the fall, that summer within the winter, that continuity in the darkness. Whatever it looks like for me, it will look different for you. That something is unique and irreplaceable and powerful.
“No matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back. … And that makes me happy.”
That something is indestructible. We all have it. For those of us that have conscientiously stared into the abyss at one time or another, this mote of invincible light absolutely must be recalled and carried continuously, here and henceforth ~