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.
My mom had this on a plaque– I realize now that this was always in a place that she was often at; our apartment it was in the living room/kitchen then in our last home it was in her master bathroom. I remember as a child, I decided this was extremely important and that I must read and understand it. I was probably seven. Naturally I got bored at “placidly” because it was a hard word and too big for me. I quickly abandoned the idea and back up the wall the plaque went. But the word “Desiderata” always fascinated me. Only today did I look it up– it’s Latin for “to desire”. I wish I asked her what it meant to her, and why she kept it close but that’s another addition to my list of too-late wishes.
I have often, as my brothers, seen a side of her that nobody has. But now that she’s gone, I don’t wish to dwell on the bad. I remind myself of her positive strengths, and my eulogy spoke of only the positive. At the memorial so many people went up to me and told me stories about her and I realized how little I really knew about her. But I can see that the principles of Desiderata was what she truly embodied when she met these people. That’s all these people saw in her. I’m glad for that, I guess. I’m glad nobody had a negative memory of her.
I was often at the receiving end of her criticisms and opinions of other people, but that was because she trusted me. Everyone at the memorial did not know this about her, because to them she never said a bad word– why would she, anyway? That’s not really who she is.
This has been a sad year for me already, my dog that I’ve had for 17 years was put down (we all saw it coming but I always saw her as something of a last link to Mom) and my other dog hurt his knee. I won’t see him until May. And finally, today, the true meaning of Desiderata has appeared to me. I understand it now, I think. Maybe I will be able to be at more of a peace with this. It hurts, but maybe it’ll help me be more accepting of the circumstances that she left under. Her birthday is approaching, she’d have been 58. I’m not sure what I’m gonna do on that day, but I’ll do something if I can.