The poem, Desiderata, was written by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). Mr. Ehrmann was a lawyer and a poet in Terre Haute Indiana and it is reported that he called the poem his humble gift to those he would leave behind. Desiderata, Latin for “things to be desired” has been used in devotional materials, greeting cards and even the anti war movement of the 1960’s. Even though it was written in the 1920’s (est. 1927) it remains a timely prayer, formula and primer for today’s world.
Our jam-packed lives, filled with urgency and responsibility, often leave precious little time for the pursuit of balance and personal peace. It is summer time as I write this and I vividly recall the long days of children already bored by too much free time, and the soon-to-come frantic activity of readying for the new school year. Even the greatly anticipated family vacation was fraught with the stress of planning and doing.
The demands of the blended family allow women even fewer opportunities for self care. Maybe we can squeeze in a pedicure appointment or use our lunch hour to shop for a child’s weekend birthday party, but our attention to our own feelings, thoughts and emotions is generally upstaged by our daily tasks and obligations.
No matter your religion, culture or politics, the simple, yet profound words of Desiderata are a collection of wisdom for our sometimes neglected souls. I will attempt to paraphrase this wise advice for the benefit of all women, moms and stepmoms whose time for seeking a gentle philosophy for life’s journey is in short supply:
Stay calm in chaos and choose silence over loudness.
Be on good terms with everyone but do not compromise your values.
Listen to others and respect their rights as you do your own.
Avoid aggressive individuals; especially the loud and obnoxious. They agitate the spirit.
Do not compare yourself with others. Comparisons breed jealousy or vanity.
Stay interested in your career and celebrate your achievements, no matter how humble. A steady and secure job is a treasure in these times.
Beware of tricks and scams in business affairs. The world is full of swindlers.
Do not let skepticism cause you to overlook the virtue, high ideals and heroism that exist in humanity.
Know yourself and be true to the [woman] you are. Do not fake affection or friendship. Never underestimate the importance of love…it will see you through the most difficult of times.
Accept growing older, with grace and maturity. Gather up the strengths of your spirit for use during life’s trials.
Do not dwell on negative thoughts or ideas. Most of what we fear never happens. Get sufficient rest and engage in healthy relationships to ward off dreadful imaginings.
Exercise personal discipline but do not judge yourself too harshly. You are loved by your Creator who has placed you here above all things in the universe.
Even when it does not seem so, life is unfolding as it should be.
In spite of all the sadness, hurt and broken dreams, it is still a wonderful world!
Take care, be careful and make your own peace and happiness as important as that of the people you know and love.