Nelson Mandela – Light of Inspiration.

When I heard that Nelson Mandela had died today, I felt like my grandfather had passed away. At the advanced age of 95, it was not unexpected. But I wanted him to live forever or at least until someone else could fill his shoes. Truth is, no one can replace Grandfather, his kind eyes, his beautiful smile, his ability to make everyone feel special in his presence.
We can barely comprehend who he was and how he came to be. Nelson Mandela was a living legend already, half a century ago.
In his life time, he fully represented three archetyes: The Warrior (as an anti-apartheid freedom fighter), the Wounded Warrior (jailed for 27 years), and the Sage (having emerged from his imprisonment as the wise man who was able to lead his country into a new era).
Nelson Mandela

With so many examples of spirits broken through war, torture, imprisonment, or grinding poverty, how did he come through as a whole and wise person, how did he not succumb to the need for revenge, to strike out against those who jailed and mistreated him? Where did his inner strength come from?

one orange poppy

What are the lessons we each need to take from his example, lived so well and so completely?
He leaves a gaping vacuum. However, if we wait for someone else to step in his shoes to continue his life’s work, we are missing the point. We each must find what calls us and pursue it with courage, creativity and conviction.
The following quote has often been mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela, but actually came from Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love:

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Did he not exemplify this call to action with his entire wondrous and precious life?!
And what keeps us, you and me, from doing the same? How many times have we played small, passed an opportunity to show up in a big way, because we really didn’t believe that we were that good, that smart, that creative, that what we had to offer would make a difference? How many times did we doubt, second-guess, step back instead of jumping in, sharing our deepest, honest truth, shutting out all distractions to dig deep into that creative space that only exists inside of us? Who else has lived my life, seen the world through my eyes, felt the wind through my skin, trembled with my fears, thought my thoughts, had my insights? And if I change and adapt them because I think they will be more “acceptable” or more “palatable” to others, do I not become a traitor to my own experience?
We need fresh ideas, new ways of creative thinking about old problems… the world is at an impasse, sliding down the melting glaciers into a polluted, dark sea of sameness. Some of my friends are afraid to make comments on Facebook because the NSA and its web crawling spies are looking for those who stand out.
Millions of college graduates are forced into indentured servitude for the next few decades to pay off their student loans, if they can even find a job. Many more millions sell their precious time for minimum wage, a weekly lottery ticket their only hope at ever improving their lives.
Retirees live in fear of disappearing penion funds and security for the remainder of their lives.
Our food supply is contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, leached plastics and genetically modified organisms.
Who has time and energy to think creatively, to come up for a gasp of fresh air, in the midst of it all? Sometimes, it all just seems too much, as if no amount of effort could turn the ship around, away from the roar of Niagara Falls. And if Nelson Mandela had given up, crumbled in his solitary cell under the oppressive weight of it all, where would we be today?

Here is hoping that Nelson Mandela’s flowering will seed a world of flowers:

so many orange poppies

Thank you for the inspiring light you were and continue to be for us, Nelson Mandela!

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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21 Responses to Nelson Mandela – Light of Inspiration.

  1. Andrew Seal says:

    Beautifully said. A fine tribute to a great man.


  2. brucethomasw says:

    Wow – what a tribute. Lets stand up and carry the light of his inspiration. I’m sorry to hear of the fear people have to speak out. Peace and goodwill to all. And RIP, Nelson Mandela.


    • Thank you, Bruce. I am hoping that he brings out the best in all of us, and especially now that he is gone. Is there something particular in YOUR life that you are inspired to do/be?


      • brucethomasw says:

        I lead a quiet life, living a conserver lifestyle and I’ll continue this but also I want and need to reach out more to people, maybe by teaching about renewable energy methods – and I’ve got to get that solar greenhouse built.

        Oh – and my wife and Ihad thought about having a free 1 day seminar about how to blog, at our local elder college. Not that we are experts . . . Hopefully, in some of this, Nelson is nodding.


  3. Pingback: RIP Nelson Mandela | Any Shiny Thing

  4. Lynne Spreen says:

    Oh, Annette. My gosh, how beautiful. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. I took the liberty of adding your link to my brief post, because I cannot improve on this lovely post. Best wishes.


  5. Very lovely thoughts woven into words in this tribute.
    RIP Nelson Mandela!


  6. What a lovely tribute to this great statesman and brave human being. 🙂


  7. suzjones says:

    This is the best tribute I have read about such a wonderful man.
    Thank you 🙂


  8. So many lessons in one life………. thank you for sharing.


  9. Seyi sandra says:

    Thanks for sharing… that was a wonderful tribute!


  10. Pingback: Oh, The Places You’ll Go: My first blogging year in review | The Beauty Along the Road

  11. themofman says:

    “And if I change and adapt them because I think they will be more ‘acceptable’ or more ‘palatable’ to others, do I not become a traitor to my own experience?”

    Extremely important! Well stated.


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