The Measure of a Man – 8 a rebellious soul

I am lucky that I always receive good books from my friends. Through each of the books, I embark on a wonderful journey to learn, to marvel and to wonder. Mr. Sidney Poitier’s memoir is one of the very best.

To Sir with love was the only movie I watched from Mr. Sidney. Not that if he was born 20 years later I would have watched more of his movies; I am not a cinema animal. I watch movies that are at least praised by 2 of my friends – a late bird. The movie was a classic, soothing story depicted a young black teacher and his group of troubled students. It is a movie of passion, care and sacrifice. I distinctly remembered the part the students presented him a gift. I did wrote a review about the movie.

Accidental millionaire? I don’t believe destiny is purely a chain of accidents. It is unfolded through consistent efforts and immense determination. It is true that our destiny are shaped by many forces that we have little control. But fortune only favors those who are prepared, mentally and technically. Mr. Sidney’s life is a perfect example of this hardworking fortune. This is a tale of his unrelenting struggle to survive. 

A black African grew up on a neglectable island off the Caribbean Sea. Although barely literate, the Caribbean wind never grind down his pride as a poor black; rather it sharpens his vision and determination. He wanted to prove that he would be not only as good as but better than his white counterparts. He defied his destiny as a dishwasher and chose to became a icon in the Hollywood history. That was a rocky path.

He had his passion but not the skill. He was turned down many times and blatantly insulted (even physically). But those events only made him stronger and prepared him better for his destiny. He turned down opportunities too. He refused to play roles that compromised his “measure”. He strove to maintain his value, his measure, to the extent of paranoid (at least sound to me). His paranoid paid off well. His value system sailed him through storms like the canopy boat did to his dad. He succeeded.

He credited his success largely to his instinct sense of survivorship. The life he had on the cat island bestowed him with a sharp alertness of danger and a innate understanding of emotion. Like many other great people’s life: all the dots are connected to our future; but they become clear only when we look back. We need to have faith to travel that far.

It is a palm thick book. Yet it gives me a glimpse of Mr. Sydney’s unique “measure” that directed his destiny. Besides the stories, Mr. Sydney also shared us his philosophy in life and his vision for future. Truly fascinating and inspiring. This is not like a memoir from Mr. Richard Branson who told a great story of how he pursued his dream and realized his empire; this is a common man who struggled to survive while holding his head high.


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