Sunday Letter | #288
I’m back from hiatus, sort of. I’m not ready to return to a weekly schedule just yet, but hope to soon, and wanted to let you know, today, that I’ve been thinking about you.
The last month has been maybe the most stressful, anxious month of my entire life. It’s been mostly house-related stress; several nights I’ve found myself unable to sleep, on the verge of having a panic attack. This morning I journaled my worries, and afterwards it read like a page from novel, Ducks, Newburyport.
I’ll get into all that some other time. What I’m really here to do today is share a favorite poem – a lighthouse, rediscovered, in this storm. It’s called “Desiderata”, by Max Ehrmann, who wrote it almost a century ago. I first came across “Desiderata” while living in New York, although the exact source escapes me. At one point I tried to memorize it, but only got as far as the opening clause, which I still remember to this day:
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
I was reminded of this poem last week at my favorite local sauna place, where a framed copy of it sits on a shelf near the register. I want to share it with you, in its entirety, here, in hopes that it helps you, too, weather any personal storm you might be going through.
by Max Ehrmann (source)
Go placidly amid the noise and the 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 or 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 in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.