Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Recently my book publisher asked me to fill out a questionnaire in preparation for the launch of my next book, The Gotcha Gods. One of the questions asked was, what is your favourite quote?
Hmmm. I love quotes. I even collect quotes. I went to my journals and searched for something perfect, the quote that would sum up my beliefs and values succinctly and beautifully. No luck. They were all lovely, but each of them spoke to only part of my life, like friendships, writing, or finding inspiration. I left the question blank, but felt bad about it.
Later it came to me. Desiderata.
Desiderata is a prose/poem that I feel speaks directly to me. I have always loved it, from the first time I heard it as a young girl. When I searched for it I discovered that it is attributed to Max Ehrmann in 1952, but I believe I once read that it was first written in the 16th century. One of my daughters recently discovered the music that was written to go with the words. She burned it onto a CD so I can listen to it whenever I want, which is often.
Unfortunately, it is too long to use on an author bio, but I will post it below. Clearly, these are words to live by.
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.
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.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.