There were life goals written on the wall in my 20th Century house. They are still so valid today. Desiderata, a prose by Max Ehrmann, forms a backbone to my values. As a young girl, growing up in my parents’ house, I (obviously) visited the smallest room in the house quite often. There, on the inside of the toilet door was a poster. All frayed around the edges, I remember it had been a fixture on that door for a very long time. It took me many many years to understand it.
First I tried to understand the lilt and flow of the words. The sentences were too strange for me as a little girl to follow. It’s a bit like trying to understand Shakespeare when you’ve just learnt your first words.
I have a piece of advice I espouse often. There is power in the written word, and if you have something you want to do or learn or master, like a habit you want to form or a goal you want to achieve, you need to write it down and put it in your plain sight so that you see it often and every day.
This theory of having something written in full view/plain sight started with my youthful years of reading Desiderata. How could I (just a little girls, perhaps 7 or 8) have learnt the messages in Desiderata unless I had read it over and over for many many years?
What I learnt after many years of reciting this piece stays with me always. I may have rephrased it many times over, and recited it wrong alot, but the important messages it purveys have stuck with me since I was very small. Desiderata was a very important influence on me, and I formed many of my values from the tattered poster on the toilet door.
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 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 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 with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.