I drank an americano at Bard Coffee in Portland, Maine and read the local weekly. An article about Market Street Eats made my mouth water so I looked up the address and walked a few blocks to buy a wrap at the sandwich shop, an avocado melt. Everything the article said about the food was true, so dang good I went back for breakfast.

When I stepped in the second time, the guy who took my order the day before said, "Hey Jessica..." all casual, like we've been homies forever when our entire relationship actually consisted of him writing my name on the food ticket yesterday.

"Hey," I said and complimented his memory, "Nice one..."

While I waited for my breakfast sandwich, I wandered around and looked at the walls, at the license plates, bumper stickers (Jesus would signal, Who died and made you Elvis?), artwork, and photographs and then I saw Desiderata.

As has so much lately, the timing felt auspicious. Not everything in the poem spoke to me specifically and I don't mean to sound as if I'm in some sort of spiritual crisis but this has been a summer of challenges, conflicts, and confrontations. I've also cackled and chuckled but the laughs don't loom as large. It's been exhausting at times, exhilarating at others. I've questioned a lot what goes on around me, what goes on inside me, and how I handle the both.

Overall, I'm proud. I still have to order myself everyday to get my nose out of the paperwork and keep laughing, that it's all part of a bigger picture and all learning. I don't know what part of that learning curve I'm on but I'm riding the hell out of it.

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.


Alison Schumacher said...

I put Desiderata in the front of my calendar every year; it's such a good poem/life manifesto and I appreciate the frequent reminder to stop and consider where we are in the scheme of things!

ronckytonk said...

Word, Alischu. Word. Also, I saw a flamingo purse the other day and wanted to buy it for you but thought it might not be practical to pack for Peru.

Alison Schumacher said...

I can only imagine how well I'd fit in (even better than I would anyway) with a stylish flamingo purse. I thought of you when I read a story about a place in Spain (?) which painted the entire town blue for the Smurf movie... I read the story because the title was, "How do you say Smurf in Spanish?" to which I could say, "Duh, 'esnup'!"

ronckytonk said...

Don't forget the German: Schlumpf!