This poem, penned in the early 1920s by the American writer Max Ehrmann, was given to me by a friend, Timothy Timms when I was thirteen years old. Timothy’s parents were fascinating to me. They were hippies, living in a big house, full of books and musical instruments. Timothy’s parents were the first adults who spoke to me as though they were interested in my opinion on life. In their kitchen were jars of herbs and spices and seemed like a different world to me. His mother wore long flowing Indian cotton dresses and spoke in a soft, kind voice. Timothy wanted to teach me how to play the guitar and I was eager to learn. Then the family moved away, and I never saw or heard from Timothy again.
The poem Desiderata had a huge impact on me. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by life, I read it. The copy he gave me all those years ago is now framed and hangs on my wall. The first line of the verse reminds me, sometimes it’s best to say nothing. Remember what peace there may be in silence.
It is important for you to, Speak your truth quietly and clearly; But you must listens to others. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; for they will unsettle you.
This is something I have always remind myself is important to remember. If you compare yourself with others you may become vain or bitter.
What is also important, is to be yourself, and Strive to be happy
I’ve posted a copy of the poem below, so you can read it for yourself.
I find the whole poem speaks loudly and clearly to me in this noisy, racing world, even after all these years.
Be at peace with yourself, my dear friends. You are a child of the universe.
Desiderata 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 labours 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 :
Written by Max Ehrmann, 1948