Desiderata- Part II

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April 12, 2019-

In the last post, I looked at the first half of Max Ehrmann’s 1927 prose- poem, which attained wide popularity in the 1960’s, due to a mass, unattributed distribution of the verses, the result of the author’s having not copyrighted the work.

In this post, the second five lines are the focus.

“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.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

I have yet to pretend to like someone, much less to love them.  I have had friendships which turned sour, because one or both of us failed to meet pre-conceived expectations.  I have learned, in very ingrained fashion, to approach friendships more carefully. Cynicism about love, though, is out of the question.  It is as perennial as the grass.

As one in late middle age, I do not act like, or pretend to act like, the youth I once projected.  I still have energy and drive, and I also get arthritic aches, if I sit for too long.  I make regular use  of essential oil supplements, hydromassage and therapeutic exercise, as those are the counsels of age.

I have, with help from skilled financial planners, shielded myself from later distress.  Strength of spirit is there, to help keep distress, and any external threats, at bay.

Being gentle with myself, and recognizing my right to life, has come hard.  I went through a long period of self-loathing, which was mitigated, but not extinguished, by my late, beloved wife.  Only standing up to critics and challengers, including the most recent bunch, has given me the sense that gentleness with self is my due.

I know, finally, that all that is happening, for short-term good or ill, will result in what’s best for the Universe and for mankind.  I have, even recently, seen sham and broken dreams.  Those who jive others, or try to fool themselves, will learn the hard truth sooner or later.

Yes, it is still a beautiful world, and I intend to experience more of it.

Moving Seamlessly

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The young firefighter described his, and his unit’s, work, over the course of a year, as moving seamlessly from one set of tasks to another.  This is what I admire most about so many of those who have taken on difficult, dangerous and often thankless, unappreciated tasks as their life’s work.  The unit in question works under an administration which seems to neither understand nor care much for those under its charge.  That administration is getting a rather long overdue education today and tomorrow.

I have said in the past that, even as I have good friends in every living generation, I am finding I relate best to Millennials.  The sense of commitment to a better world is just below the surface among all ages, yet nowhere is the energy and drive to truly create a functioning and equitable global society stronger than it is among teens and twenty-somethings.  Gen Z (those fourteen and under) seems just as promising, so this could be a confirmation that the world, towards which so many have striven,  is on its way, even as so much that is rotten needs to be cleared out.

We may not move forward with absolute seamlessness, and there are plenty of non-angelic types among the younger generation, but as I move about the city of Prescott, around Arizona or across the country and to other parts of the world, I sense there is a purposeful mien among the youth.  It goes beyond idealism, which, if left to stand alone, becomes cynicism and gives way to creature comforts, drug abuse and paranoia. Maybe, with the current younger generations, the lack of time-honoured opportunities which many of us enjoyed as youth, has forced self-reliance, group action and innovation to the fore early on in their lives.  Certainly, technology has helped greatly, in that regard.

I have come under a lot of fire from many of my fellow Boomers and from several Gen-X’ers recently, for my past few posts.  I can’t share their cynicism, though, and while contemplating the rest of my life, I can only see good things for the human race, in the aggregate.  Those of my contemporaries who agree with my assessment have been equally vocal, so maybe I, too, am moving seamlessly from one day, and one set of tasks, to the next.