You know those passages of writing that resonate with you, the ones that seem to speak to the fabric of who you are? And as time passes, the words and ideas within the passage remain just as significant, even though they may affect you in different ways? This poem â€“ Desiderata â€“ is one of those pieces of writing for me.
“Go placidly amid the noise and 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 vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and 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 perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to 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 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.
Max Ehrmann c.1920
During my university years, a poster of the Desiderata poem adorned the wall of my various student-housing bedrooms. Then someone gave me a framed version of Desiderata written in beautiful calligraphy which hung proudly in my real-world-no-longer-a-student apartments. The passage was, throughout these years, my manifesto, my way of approaching life and the world around me. But somewhere along the timeline of moving abroad, then moving back to Toronto and into a place with my now husband, between having kids and changing the dĂ©cor of our lives, the poem got put away. And I forgot about it.
Until a few weeks ago, when I noticed a poster of Desiderata on the basement wall at a clientâ€™s house. I was struck once again by its power. It stuck with me all that day, and the next. So much so that I sought it out online and have read and re-read it numerous times since.
Rediscovering this passage has affected me so much that, for this weekâ€™s Monday meditation, Iâ€™m changing things up a little. Instead of offering up a topic or idea to focus and meditate upon this week, Iâ€™m inviting you read Desiderata every day.Â And after each reading, let your heart decide which idea(s) you want to bring into your meditation on that particular day.
Every time I read Desiderata, it inspires me in some way. It reminds me of the many things in life I hold dear, and of the way I want to live my days. And yet the passage can be broken down into so many deeper and powerful ideas. I hope that as you meditate upon some of them this week, youâ€™ll appreciate this poem as much as I do. And please let me know what resonates with you.
May you go placidly amidst the noise and haste this week.