Thinking about Desiderata

desiderata

Do you have a favorite passage? A favorite poem? Something you read that moved you? I’m sharing my favorite poem of all time. I find myself re-reading whenever I feel I am stuck – in a bad mood, in a bad situation or just feeling meh.

I’ve been feeling all of those lately.

I first stumbled upon this poem at my grandparent’s place more than 20 years ago. We were there for a short vacation to celebrate my mom’s parents’ 50 years wedding anniversary. I was in my teens that time and you know those teen years when mood swings decide to visit unexpectedly, no matter what how lively everyone around you is.

In the middle of that quiet old town in the province, I was sitting in the balcony, listening to the sound of the wind and the waves in the nearby beach (my grandparents lived very close to the sea), with a book of poems in my hand. It was my uncle’s. He was a teacher and had so many books sprawling in his room so I picked up one to read to while away my time.

I flipped the old book with some pages torn and missing and found this wonderful poem. Do you remember the time when all we had were actual books and not iPad screens or smartphones? It’s so different then and now.

My uncle couldn’t give me the book to own as it was from the school library so I got my pen and notepad (I was always with a notepad before) and remember copying the whole poem by hand. There was no screenshot before! You know what’s wonderful with writing? It brings emotions to the words. It hit me like a ton of bricks at that point in my life and I promised myself, if I find myself uninspired, I would read this and remember how I felt reading this for the first time.

Here it is.

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 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 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 critical 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 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 careful. Strive to be happy.

*****

For me, “Desiderata” offered advice for living as I moved into adulthood. 

I’ve highlighted the lines I liked most in this poem. If you’re feeling down and feeling blue, I hope this inspires you like it inspired me, then and now and in the days to come.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Top photo credit

One thought on “Thinking about Desiderata

  1. This is a beautiful poem! I’ve been feeling anxious about a decision I have to make, and worried about the outcome. This made me feel more peaceful. It kind of gives a good perspective. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! The poem I return to over and over is one of John Dionne’s holy sonnets, the one that begins Batter My Heart Three Person’d God. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

    Like

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