Desiderata: A Poem of Thanksgiving

21 November 2012 · 8 comments

I’m the kind of guy who likes traditions. I like familiarity and routine. Despite having made many major changes in my life over the past few years, I still find myself drawn to certain rituals, especially around the holidays.

For me, Thanksgiving Day is especially full of meaning. It’s my favorite holiday. I think it’s wonderful that we set aside a day each year to remember the good things we have. And I have many good things in my life.

As I always do at Thanksgiving, this year I’ll be reading and remembering and reaffirming my dedication to an 85-year-old prose poem from a man named Max Ehrmann. It does a fine job of encapsulating my life philosophy. A couple of years ago, on a whim, I de-versified it and converted it to prose paragraphs. It reads better this way:

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

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.

This year, for the first time in my life, I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with my family. I’ll be with Kim’s family instead. But I’m okay with that. One of the many things I’m thankful for is new friends, and Kim has been the best new friend I’ve made in 2012.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Be well. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

1 Martin November 21, 2012 at 21:20

Happy Thanksgiving JD! How upset is your family with you?

2 Elizabeth November 22, 2012 at 04:26

Lovely poem :) Thanks for sharing, and happy Thanksgiving!

3 Jose R Vazquez November 22, 2012 at 07:21

Excellent poem and life guidance lighthouse my friend.!!!!!!!
Have an awesome Thanksgiving with your love ones.

Jose

4 winslow November 22, 2012 at 09:09

thanks for the Thanksgiving day poem. great perspective in there, which is what i believe Thanksgiving is really about.

5 Jim November 22, 2012 at 18:08

Thanks for posting, JD, Desiderata hung in my home as a child, and I inherited from my late mother the same framed copy, and it hangs on my wall right now as I rebuild after divorce and heal from financial and emotional codependence. I placed it right by the door I exit my home from each day to the outside world to remind me to be gentle and graceful today, each day. Heartwarming reminder, this is, mucho gracias, my best to you.

6 Jeff November 25, 2012 at 11:35

@Martin- His family isn’t too upset… as long as he doesn’t forget about us completely! There were more mashed potatoes for the rest of us with him gone anyway… ;-)

7 Anne November 26, 2012 at 09:48

Enjoying your pictures with your blog, but some identifying info would be nice.

8 Lisa November 26, 2012 at 09:55

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, JD. I also spent my first Thanksgiving with a different group of folks. It was interesting contrasting that dynamic to my own family dynamic. I hope your holiday yields some fun stories!

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