When I first read the Desiderata poem as a sophomore in high school, I remember thinking that it had nothing to do with typing. You see, it was introduced to us in typing class by a visionary teacher named Miss Young. She was a tough instructor, walking through that classroom peering over our shoulders to see if we were looking down at the keys as we typed away on those old Underwoods. Yes, even though the new electric typewriters were out and used in other classes, Miss Young was insistent that we learn on a standard typewriter. To this day, I love her for that.
But I digress. The reason, as she explained to our underdeveloped minds, that she brought Desiderata to our attention was that it means “things that are yearned for.” She further explained that we must pursue what feels right to us; what brings us joy; what our hearts tell us…not our heads. And yet there we were, taking classes that would help us be better business people. Seems like a dichotomy, doesn’t it? But not really.
I wouldn’t be able to create my blog and take photographs, both of which I love to do, if it weren’t for her teaching me to type. And I got many a good job that I loved because I listened to my heart and took some risks. And, as far as that goes, it didn’t hurt that I also had a wonderful English teacher. But I’ll leave that story for another day.
In the meantime, if you’re so inclined, read Desiderata. It sure has a lot of meaning these days … now more than ever. The image below is one I found in my archives of a painting that hangs in our spare room. Seems fitting to accompany this beautiful poem 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.
Max Ehrmann c.1920