Monday, September 24, 2007

Things to be Desired

If you're like me, you have about a million links saved in your "favorites" folder. And, if you're like me, they're probably not very well organized. When I'm surfing, I have a tendency sometimes to go through the list to organize it, to clean it out like my desk, filing cabinet, garage, closet, dresser, etc., etc. Unfortunately, I make just about as much progress in the electronic arena as I do everywhere else. I have the best intentions but invariably something distracts me. I discover a misplaced something or other. I wonder why on Earth I saved this or that. I remember why on Earth I saved this or that. I find something to read or to play with. Before I know it too much time has passed and I need to stop to move on to something else. I make a mental note to pick up where I left off and next time really get the job done. Unfortunately most of my mental notes are written with disappearing ink.

Anyway, this weekend I found myself engaged in exactly this activity. I dropped down the list of favorites and started clicking. I deleted a couple. I had fun revisiting several. Had no idea why I saved several more but was absolutely sure they must've been important so I kept them. Then I came across one in particular that I had forgotten I saved. However once I saw it I had no problem remembering why I saved it. It links to the the words of a poem that I've always liked. I think I may have first heard it in high school or thereabouts. I had a poster of it on my wall in my dorm in college. There was even a recording of it made back in the 70's that was very popular although I never got around to buying it. Some may consider it a little schmaltzy but I like it anyway. It's message is pretty simple and it makes a great deal of sense to me.

It was written around 1927 by a lawyer and poet from Terre Haute, Indiana named Max Ehrmann. He had written in his diary "I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift -- a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods." He called his "bit of chaste prose" Things to be Desired but he used the Latin translation. You probably know it as the Desiderata. It may be schmaltzy. It may be corny. It may have been used on a few too many posters and "If you love something you've got to let it go free" type cards. But that doesn't make the words and the ideas any less meaningful.


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.

--Max Erhmann 1927


Anonymous said...

Funny you should post this. Not 2 days ago I went through my favorites folder and found I couldn't get rid of any links I had saved. I felt crushed even deleting the dead links.

There are many things to be desired in this world. Most of which are out of reach.That is why we must find happiness in what we have.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Truer words were never spoken. It comes from within.

Caitlin said...

I have this on the wall in my dorm too! Whoa. I never knew who wrote it though. Thank you for enlightening me.

Pablothehat said...

Yes (looking around at the piles of books, magazines and paper scattered around the pc)...mmm?

Too many half completed projects.

Hate to think what is lurking in the Bookmarks!!

Your blog looks great!

Desire is infinite, the act a slave to limit.

Cannot remember who said that..but it is true..we desire all but our time and resources are few.

I have put a link to your site on my blog where it won't get accidentally deleted LOL.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Cait, you are most welcome. I have a book around somewhere with some of his other poetry. Not sure where. I'll try to find it.

Pablo, thanks for stopping by and for the link. I like what you said about desiring all but our time. I'm a big "it's the journey, not the destination" kinda guy and I do attempt (though I don't always succeed)to be in the present, the moment. It's hard for a Pisces but I do try. I don't remember who said this but it applies.
"The greatest lie we live is that we have a past that is real and a future where we have time"