Today, on the way to a lunch-time meeting with the senior editor at Routledge who looks after my little stable of books on eating disorders, I came across Nelson Mandela. His bust, anyway. It stands on London’s South Bank, beside the Royal Festival Hall.
I stood for several minutes and gazed at the bust of this wonderful South African, and thought about his quote: ‘The struggle is my life’.
I have admired Nelson Mandela from afar for many years. I have admired him from Australia; I admired him on Robben Island, South Africa, in 2004, when standing at the doorway of the tiny cell in which he spent 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned; I admired him in 2010, standing beside the grand statue of this great man in Washington DC. Today, London. Every time I hear this man’s name, or see his picture, read about him, I feel inspired.
To read ‘The struggle is my life’ was the perfect lead-in to what was a very enjoyable lunch with my Routledge editor. Everyone who has an eating disorder knows what struggle is about. But by believing in ourselves, and being true to ourselves,with struggle, we gain self-respect and peace and contentment.
When I look at Mr Mandela, I see a man who is at peace. Although imprisoned in a small cell for many years, he maintained his beliefs and ideals and his struggle for what he believed was right. He kept his sense of self intact. In 2004, on Robben Island, this image, that of imagining Mr Mandela in that small cell, holding on to his sense of self, was one of the pivotal steps in my recovery of self from my eating disorder. Looking at that small cell, and thinking about it, helped me break down the walls of the eating disorder cell in my mind. Thank you, Mr Mandela.