Holiday Greetings for New Beginnings in 2019

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            One of the prose poems that continues to bring significant insights and wisdom to me is Desiderata, which in Latin means desired things. Published in 1927 by American writer Max Ehrmann, the poem was largely unknown in his lifetime. Ehrmann was an attorney turned philosopher and poet who wrestled with making a living and following what he considered his calling — poetry, literature, and thought. Since his passing in 1945, Desiderata has been mentioned and quoted by many individuals including Adlai Stevenson, Leonard Nimoy, Joan Crawford, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and Morgan Freeman to mention a few. I bring it to you at this time with much gratitude for its continued teachings for me and understanding that as of a 1976 court decision it is now in the public domain. May it bring you new awareness and insights as we approach the beginning of 2019.


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.

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 with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata,” Copyright 1927. Poetry Foundation,


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