Monday, July 4, 2011

Desiderata (For Big G)

With all due apologies and credit to Max Ehrmann, I wanted to add my thoughts to his "Desiderata." An aunt gave Big G a copy of the poem (in a book of kitty pictures) after graduation, and the poem has been resonating with me ever since.

So here goes:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, (Learn to be quiet in chaos)
and remember what peace there may be in silence. (Learn to keep your mouth shut sometimes)

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons. (Apologize if need be, but keep to your own truth)
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; (Stand up for yourself)
and listen to others, (Meaning me, especially)
even the dull and the ignorant; (Yes, them too.)
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit. (And hard to have as houseguests.)

If you compare yourself with others, (I think you’re marvelous)
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. (Taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, smarter, dumber…you get the idea. Be yourself.)

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. (Sometimes the fun is in the dreaming.)
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; (Watch for burnout.)
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; (Watch out for debt, yours and the government’s)
for the world is full of trickery. (Read the fine print. Twice.)
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; (You can be a realistic optimist)
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. (I love this line—always be on the lookout for good.)

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection. (Don’t pretend to love someone you only care for…but if you really love, love deeply.)
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. (It comes back, it re-grows. Sometimes where you don’t expect it to be.)

Take kindly the counsel of the years, (Listen to your Mother.)
gracefully surrendering the things of youth. (No miniskirts after 35…but this does not mean you can’t enjoy a good silly giggle from time to time.)
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. (If you are strong within, you can handle a lot of stress without.)
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. (Real life is scary enough.)
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. (Get some rest and call a friend.)

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself. (Don’t be so hard on yourself that you lose sight of joy.)
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. (You have a right to BE.)
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. (I'm glad I'm not the one who has to figure it out.)

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be, (Or Her. Or Them.)
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. (Remember to breathe deep and keep some stillness within.)

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. (Oh, is it ever…)
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. (For that is all I ever wanted for you.)

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