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The Wisdom of “Desiderata.”

It’s strange how a word from years past can make its way into current conversation. A friend and I were catching up on our lives the other day, when our discussion moved to world events.

Comfortably ensconced on my living room sofa, with iced coffees and croissants, we analyzed the latest headlines, reactions to them, plus our own opinions. The old song by Eddie Arnold, “Make The World Go Away,” came to mind when I realized we couldn’t change a darn thing we were talking about. That being said, it also occurred to me that each of us could affect personal changes.

That’s when the title of an old prose poem came to mind. “Desiderata” was written by the poet Max Ehrmann, for his daughter in 1927. Further online information claimed it made a popular revival during the ‘60s and &’70s, particularly for peace advocates. Considering its age, the message it conveys is timeless. This remarkable work hit the airwaves in 1970, recited in the sonorous voice of Canadian actor, Lorne Greene.

The singular word, “Desiderata,” comes from Latin for “things to be desired.” A philosophy for humanity one might say. A poem that in twenty-eight lines, divided into six paragraphs speaks of how to live a happy and satisfied life. In modern day terms we could call it living an authentic lifestyle or being true to oneself. After reading it a number of times, it reminded me of the posts I often see on my newsfeed. Many extol the benefits of living simply, kindly, lovingly and gratefully in a complex, crazy world.

The last stanza of “Desiderata” brings hope.

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,

It is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.”

– Max Ehrmann

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