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.

The Road to 65, Mile 87: Choices

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February 23, 2015, Prescott- When I was deep in mourning, and on the road, one of my closest friends reminded me that everything one does, regardless of circumstances, is the consequence of choice. I got a call, this morning, at 5:47, from one of the districts for which I work.  I was not quite able to wrap my head around getting it together, and opted for a bit more sleep.  On days like this, I am well aware of the consequence, both immediate and down the road.  So have I learned to not blame others for much of anything.

Ann Landers once said, “No one can take advantage of you, without your permission”.  How true, and how often disconcerting. One must have clear boundaries.  The people we let into our lives are going to have expectations and are going to pursue agendas, which may or may not be in keeping with our own goals and plans.  It is up to each of us, whether to play a particular game, or opt out.

Without making conscious choices, a life gets bogged down and the person living it, dependent, bitter and often self-harming.  I have known many, besides myself, who defer decisions, based on excuses and the notion that “Conditions aren’t quite right”. Conditions will never be just so!

The other “tool” that the takers of this world employ, all too well, is guilt.  I have learned to sleep very well at night, doing what I can for the dispossessed and others in need, without going so far as to put myself among their number, through reckless spending at the loud insistence of guilt-mongers.

There is simply no substitute for taking responsibility for one’s own actions and beliefs.

The Road to 65, Mile 58: Hiding in Plain Sight

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January 25, 2015, Prescott-  A few days ago, my topic was Expectations.  As I figured, the topic offended some people, but that’s the risk one takes, on a dedicated series like this.  Regardless, I will continue to write what’s in my heart.  Many of us prefer to overlook things which are either mundane or unsettling.

When I was still quite young, I sometimes would win a game of Hide and Seek, by simply lying down prone on the ground, close to the bottom edge of a cliff or berm.  The seeker would, without fail, walk or run past me, and back to goal I would head in triumph.

Fast forward to the present, and a job market which frequently casts its nets far afield, while overlooking local talent, either out of the vanity of seeking the exotic or in the belief that someone who comes from another locale, will bring fresh vision and energy to the table.  I fell in that trap, a few times, in the late ’90’s, only to be overruled by my Board, which chose an aging local person for the position.  She turned out to be perfectly suited for the job, and grew in it, professionally, to serve several more years- long after I had left.

It’s just a thought, but how much would business and  industry  save, if they were to prioritize finding local talent, especially in smaller, close-knit communities.  The newcomers do bring a different perspective, but they often must be eased into the community, while so many who are passed-over are still in the community, years later, and could have been a far greater asset to the organization, overall.