Friday, March 06, 2009

I've Had It With Vexations to the Spirit

This is one of my most favorite writings of all time; I have a copy of it framed at the bottom of the stairs in my house. There is something supremely comforting about the part that goes, "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." Isn't that nice? I mean, who can't get behind an idea like that? For the record, I also like how Mr. Ehrmann calls it like he sees it, what with the part about stoically putting up with the "dull and the ignorant," and those who are "vexations to the spirit." I won't go into it here, but I've had my fair share of vexations to the spirit in the past week, and, well--I'm sick of those people! Oh, wait--I think the poem is supposed to be more about calm acceptance, not mood swings and revenge fantasies. There's that tricky part at the end about striving to be cheerful. Dang! Sorry.

Anyway, enjoy:

by Max Ehrmann, ca. 1927

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 vexations 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.


Mnmom said...

I think I just found my "D" for the Endurance Diva!! Thanks!

I'm loud, but I hope people don't avoid me.

Shan said...

Don't worry, Mnmom, you're not loud and aggressive. Loud and sweet is fine--in fact, it's great!

Seriously--isn't this like Poetry for the New Economy, or something? I love it. It has some good lessons for our time!

Mnmom said...

Interesting how timeless his lessons are - written in 1927 and fully applicable in 2009.

Mom and Kiddo said...

I'm currently reading "Buddhism for Mothers" by Sarah Napthali (one page slowly at time....) and it reminds me many of your posts (you make me reflect a lot!) including this one.