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Desiderata

It was a typical afternoon: children laughing as they play and run around, school service and private cars coming and going, goodbyes and see you tomorrows, and amidst all that was me waiting for the time to arrive to call it another day inside the clinic.

And there hanging on the restroom door, is a poem called Desiderata printed in a wood sign. As a reader like me I couldn’t understand why I haven’t read it on my first day. Because when I finally did, I was surprised how each stanza spoke to me, describe me even.

Desiderata is a Latin word which means “desired things”. The poem talked about the busyness of the world, people we encounter and person who we are to be, it talked about life – the complicated and unpredictable life in the world but meant to be striven to. Whether you have read this poem or have yet to, I hope you’ll take delight in it as I have.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

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.

 

Despite having published more than half century ago, Desiderata spoke of today’s world and people. The noise, chaos, diversity, misconceptions about love, shattered dreams, striving and failing, hoping and weariness, confusion, and all that life has. As I read this poem again one night, it came to me as a breath of fresh air.

I hope we all learn from this poem – that despite everything we hear on the news or happen in our lives, let us – and try our best to be – cheerful; to look at the silver lining for it is still a beautiful world. We must strive to be happy and appreciate everything as we continue to grow, change, and be molded while on the journey. What we become along the journey is an important part as we achieve our desiderata.

 

Yours,
Black Butterfly

 

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