True words of wisdom

Dear Daughter,

The other night, while watching the Jacqueline Kennedy documentary I wrote about yesterday, I tweeted and Facebooked: “I just learned that Jacqueline Kennedy was only 31 when she became First Lady. I’m 31. And currently feeling like a bum.” The next day, my co-worker, who had read that comment, said to me, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

My first response to those wise words were, “Whoa, did you come up with that?” If so, I would again feel inadequate, even though he was expressly telling me not to compare myself to others! But it turns out he was quoting a line from a poem called “Desiderata,” written by Max Ehrmann. My co-worker then emailed me the whole poem and it’s so beautiful and so perfect that I wanted to share it here. It contains just about every piece of advice I want you to know about living a life of good character. Good ol’ Max said it all for me, so I guess my job here is done! (Kidding.)

Here’s the poem:

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 vexatious 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.

Mom (and Max)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tia Marsh
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 13:06:26

    Thank you so much for sharing this writing…it was very moving.


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