Sunday, May 17, 2009

Desiderata

The elderly woman pushing her daughter in wheelchair was about done in by the time she entered the fast food restaurant. She had every right to be. We'd seen her earlier, clear on the other side of town. She carefully wheeled her daughter to a table and then shuffled up to stand in line. By the time she got her food, she was struggling with her purse and with the full tray. I got up to help her, and she was grateful. She thanked me and asked me to set it on the table by 'her little girl'. Her 'little girl' was a full grown woman, severely handicapped, profoundly retarded. (I know that these words are not politically correct any more. I apologize.) I went back to my table to sit and I watched the two of them, the mother feeding her daughter, wiping her face. They did not speak, but the scene was exquisitely tender, so sweet, infinately loving. 'The desiderata becomes incarnate,' I thought, but I could not have explained this thought, not until after I came home and reread 'The Desiderata' again, after all these many years.

Desiderata

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

11 comments:

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Love Desiderata.

I have a piece of old barn, from where my Dad used to work, that has the Desiderata pasted on it. It hangs on the wall here in our house, to be seen every day. Thanks for bringing the spirit back to the forefront.

Scotty said...

Yep, great piece of text, that is - I have it on one of my many bookmarks I use when reading.

:-)

Bush Babe said...

I don't know I have ever read that the whole way through before... it's wonderful. Certainly something great to strive for...

You know one of my subjects at university was religions of the world - while it was long ago now, one thing struck me then: at the heart of them all, is the one ideal - live your life unselfishly. Whatever terrible things religion engenders only happens after human interpretation skews the ideal.

"Everywhere life is full of heroism" and "Strive to be happy". So simple. So right.

Thanks for the reminder!
:-)
BB

Mikey said...

Those are good to remember especially in times like these. That story was just incredible. Tugged at my heartstrings. We should all be grateful for everything we have.

Lavinia said...

Haven't thought about this or read it in a long while....

Mary Paddock said...

I like this too. It hangs on the wall in our bathroom.

Redlefty said...

Somehow I've never even heard of it.

Loved it; thank you!

Kelly said...

I haven't thought of this in years! I have a copy tacked to the wall of a walk-in closet I rarely go into. (Just checked to see if was still there and yep, it is.)

Thanks for reminding me of it.

jeanie said...

Mum used to have a copy of that on the back of her bedroom door - although the font used was impossible to read easily!

A Novel Woman said...

You know, I don't think I've ever read the whole thing. Beautiful.

Thanks for posting it, and for all your wonderful musings on life.

steviewren said...

There is a lot to think about in those verses.