Thursday 2 July 2020

Desiderata - what does that mean?


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.
By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

For some, this is a deep text which is thought-provoking. For me, it was an eye-opening moment when I realised that my sharp-tongued father actually had a lot of spirituality in him. 

He laid in his induced coma as we said goodbye and I pleaded with him to bring me the songs he wanted for his funeral as I had forgotten what they were - although I felt very sure 'those were the days of our lives' by Queen was one of them. Sure enough, not 48 hours after Dad took his last breath, Mum came into the room with a puzzled look on her face and a small piece of faded, striped paper between her thumb and index finger. 
     'it's got all his songs on it and 'ere what does this word say? Desa - desari..?' Dad had listed his wishes including Desiderata to be read at his funeral. The words above list the thoughts, feelings and hopes I have (as you likely know by now) and Dad and I could have had some wonderful chats around this; if only he had let his barriers down enough to tell us of his dreams and thoughts.  Never mind, at least now I knew he had this level of spirituality in him and just kept it quiet through embarrassment. Yet the funeral debate came and people said it was too long to be read out during the service. I was insistent, 'Dad wanted it, we are reading it all.'

The order of service booklets had Desiderata printed through the middle so the people coming to pay their respects could take home those words and reflect on them as I had done. Wise words. 

© Louise Usher. All rights reserved.