Desiderata – 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 to the dull and the 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 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 perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to 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 in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


I’ve been reading and re-reading this today in an attempt to be sane. To stay anchored.

It is one of those days when I am suddenly hit with the blurry pace of things and all I want to do is nap.

All I want is to be held so that I can empty my body of its tears and get on with the business of living.

I will things to slow down, imagining that if I think the thought long enough, the rest of my frantic body and manic mind will co-operate. They don’t.

So I read. And I re-read. I take huge gulping breaths and I go for a walk to pick wildflowers. I create my own bubble of quiet.

And I remember the wonderful moment today when my youngest child cupped my face in his sticky, stubby-fingered palms and planted a vanilla ice-creamed kiss on my lips. How the sun, high in the sky, made his smile shine as if surrounded by an aura. How I burst out laughing when he began performing his throaty ditties in the umm.. “personal” aisle of the store.

The moment when I was so silly that my oldest son rolled about on the sofa in gappy toothless glee, his entire body racked by chuckles.

And the man for whom the answer to “love me?” has always been “always”.

It is still a beautiful world, I say quietly to myself.


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33 responses to “Desiderata

  1. This has been a constant in my life, for perhaps forty years or so, now.
    Why so blue, love?
    Are you missing loved ones who are far away?
    The loved ones with you need you cheerful, dear.
    Nurture the little ones with a joyful spirit, as they nurture you.
    Bask in your good man’s love.
    Know that you are loved by so many of us unseen readers.
    Yes, it is still beautiful world, despite all the craziness.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Dips: Thanks for your sweetness! Desiderata has been a constant for you?
      I think more than any one thing, there is so much going on and somedays I let it overwhelm me:-/

      • It’s really been life support for me, this single page full of wisdom:)
        Take care, and just press your mental ‘pause’ button when it all gets too much:)
        Big hugs.

  2. Big grizzly mamma hug to you baby. Yes it is a beautiful world indeed. Don’t you ever let go of that belief. EVER!! Else I will come there and personally drill a hole into your head and fill the requisite amount of good sense. I guess it was one of those days was it not? Its not the PMS or the hormones or any such regular thing. It’s just you being….well….Be ready to drill a hole in my head whenever I get like this, okay. Love you

  3. Amma

    Yes,it is beautiful world indeed. My grandmother always used to say, ” count your blessings”. Only when we sit, think and look around us, we realise how blessed we are in so many little ways. And that we have nothing to complain about. And with the hectic pace of life these days , it is hard to find that little corner of peace. I think you have to create it for yourself. ” Don’t worry, by happy”. First part is easier said than done. When you feel blue , think of all the love you get from the people around you and in whose thoughts you are always there. Then you will know how beautiful this world is and how meaningful your life. It brightens my day when I think of those hugs and kisses from Adu and Armaan.

  4. Pingback: Just what I needed to hear… « BoHeMiAn RhApSoDy

  5. Beautiful lines. And hugs. This too shall pass…

  6. Devi

    This is a beautiful post Shalini. I often feel overwhelmed by how hectic life is and how many things I have to do and how few I seem to get done.

    I just remembered something I received on an email chain which struck a chord with me. I have pasted it below:

    Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers…

    When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

    When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

    He then asked the students if the jar was full.

    They agreed that it was..

    The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.

    The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

    He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

    They agreed it was.

    The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

    Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

    He asked once more if the jar was full.

    The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

    The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

    The students laughed..

    ‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

    The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

    The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car..

    The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

    ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

    The same goes for life.

    If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

    Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

    Spend time with your children.

    Spend time with your parents.

    Visit with grandparents.

    Take time to get medical checkups.

    Take your spouse out to dinner.

    Play another 18..

    There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

    Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter.

    Set your priorities.

    The rest is just sand.

    One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.

    The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

    The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

  7. Hugs. Loved the post and the above comments.

  8. hugs, hugs, hugs….you are blessed MGM and it is indeed a beautiful life!

  9. nat

    Awww Come here baby OXOXOXOXOXOXO

  10. Beautiful. Just beautiful!

  11. chooch

    I think this was written sometime in the sixteenth century??It’s amazing how it resonates even now…hope you’re good and as all the wise people above have said,you’re loved and you’re blessed.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Aargh. Am so awful with tags! but i really want to do this even though I have never done anything VERY rebellious, I suppose.

  12. why so blue, dude?

  13. And I thought my kids were thoughtful! Thanks Shal – I hadn’t vomited all day from any kiddie-cuteness, it was overdue 😉

  14. Gah! Just realized I commented on the wrong post! Damn you WordPress, for confusing a blogspot gal!

  15. Jessie Nelson

    I have always hated this poem.

    What if the dull and ignorant are also loud and aggressive because they don’t understand. We avoid them?

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly? Not always. There are times when you need to go to bat for someone. To be insistent. To be heard. Maybe not yelling exactly, but not just quiet and clear.
    You see life is not so simple.

    Keep peace in your soul. What does that even mean?

    Because the universe is unfolding as it should, so what? That does not mean it is friendly to humans, and I never accept unconditionally what I do not understand. (outside the laws of physics and chemistry)

    Heres the deal. I have no god. I am an existentialist. I live with the precious remnants of Christian morality, a heritage from a childhood religion I have seen my way clear of. There is no way to conceive a god,unless you make one up.

    Surrender the things of youth?
    No fitness center? No performance goals?
    Youth is not the problem. They want me to surrender the things of old age. Like Social Security and Medicare.

    But it is good (I think) to be cheerful and try to be happy.
    I agree strength of spirit is important.

    This prayer needs serious revision.

    Jessie Nelson

  16. I love this prayer it really touches innest part of my heart.

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