Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Words of Wisdom

A couple of days ago an acquaintance provided me with some words of wisdom that calmed me down in an instant. There seems to be some controversy over the origin of the poem which provides for some interesting reading. Here's a link to a web site with the history of Desiderata. Desiderata means "things to be desired" in Latin. The poem has blown me away. I keep reading it, have posted it on my bulletin board at work and am contemplating carrying a copy of it in my purse.

The poem goes like this:

Desiderata

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 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 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 with your soul.

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

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952

After reading the poem in its entirety and the history and controversy surrounding it, this acquaintance of mine also provided an interesting Canadian political/historical anecdote. Here's what he told me:

"When Pierre Elliiot Trudeau's government was defeated (I forget what year), and the press pounced on him that evening and asked what he thought, he said "No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

He decided to step down as Liberal Party leader and retire. Before he could, Joe Clark's government fell on a motion of non confidance, and Trudeau was reelected as Prime Minister."

I thought it was pretty cool.

4 comments:

Why said...

Please note the line do not "be cynical of love."

Stef said...

I knew, knew, knew you would say something about that! I knew it!!!

Why said...

See? We're p-sychic!

Angry Gnome said...

I'm going with "Strive to be happy." I think I will try that.