Call me corny, but I do like this Max Ehrmann prose-poem, Desiderata (roughly, “desired things”). It’s probably because the message reflects my attitude or what I want to be attitude in life. It’s a good guide in dealing with people, the world and adversities.
Don’t laugh, but I am serious. There are people who have taken Desiderata as a passing fancy, even scoff at its pretensions to being a poem. I don’t. I have a copy of Desiderata pasted on the wall of my cubicle to remind me of its message, or more appropriately to guide me. Why? Read on.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
I often am in a noisy environment, in work and sometimes at home. In the office, deadlines dictate our pace. That’s why I cherish the peace provided by silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Being on good terms with some people, we can do that, but with all persons, and without surrender? A mighty task, but good for the spirit.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Yeah, right. That is why I hate people who believe they have a monopoly of knowledge and look down on the less educated. Living with the peasants for some seven years, I have learned many things abnout life from them. And they don’t have doctorates in philosophy.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
There you go. If you find me steering clear of opinionated people, blame Desiderata. No, even before I read this poem, I have long detested the loud and the too aggressive.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
This takes away the stress of being overly-competitive. I know people who believe they are superior than others, then cry a river when they end up second best. Only God is all superior. So we just have to accept that while we are sometimes better than others, in other times others could be better than us, too.
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.
This is especially true in the Philippines where jobs are hard to come by. I may just have been fortunate that I am in a work that I love. So I am trying not to squander the opportunity.
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.
Have faith in people, that is important. But be wary too. Its a difficult balancing act, but it can be done.
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.
If there is any attitude one should watch out, it is being pretentious. If I don’t like somebody, I steer clear of him. And I am always confident I can find love everywhere.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
It’s accepting that we are but mortals. Age gracefully.
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.
I have always been a worrier. That’s why I always find this a timely reminder.
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.
Wallow in the belief that we have a purpose in being here, that we play a role in this world we have.
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.
Yes, don’t forget God. I did when I was younger. Since then I have realized that we need God for our guide, someone to hold on to.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Optimism is the better approach.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, August 25, 2007