Monday, January 07, 2013

Favorite Words to Live By

One-a-Day Photo Challenge
Day Seven:  Favorite

It's been somewhere around forty years since I first heard Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata" recited by a group of sixth-graders, twenty-seven years that a framed copy of it has been hanging in my home, and nearly seven years since I wrote here about how much it means to me.

It now hangs over a bookcase near my backdoor, where I come face-to-face with it a dozen times a day and stop to read it more often than you'd expect after all these years. It covers many of the basic premises of the Bible, except they're mostly stated as dos instead of don'ts. I like that about it. I also like that it doesn't contain any references to hellfire and damnation. While threats can be motivational, I suppose, they've never inspired me at all.

Here's the text so you can "go placidly" and be inspired yourself:

by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and 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 the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.  <<>>  Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.  <<>>  Keep interested in your 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 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 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 with your soul.  <<>>  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.


  1. I've always loved this but especially this line: "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."

  2. I haven't read this in years. It still resonates - maybe even more than when I was younger...

  3. Alison, that line has given me so much peace and comfort through the years.

    Rottrover, it's timeless, isn't it?


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