Sunday, February 24, 2008

Creative writing: Picture no. 10 “Desiderata”

“In the face of all aridity and disenchantment, love is as perennial as the grass.”

I took this picture in November 2006 in Tagaytay City, south of Manila which is the capital city of the Philippines. Baguio City, several hundred miles north of Manila, is known as the Philippines’ summer capital because of its very cool climate. Tagaytay, however, runs a very close second as a tourist destination because of its cool climate and breathtaking views.

To my mind, the selection that best suits this picture is the poem “Desiderata” by Max Erhman. This poem in the minds of a lot of people was written anonymously and was found inscribed in Old St. Paul’s Church in 1692. The truth, however, is that Erhman wrote this poem in 1927. He was a lawyer who obtained degrees in English (DePauw University) and Philosophy (Harvard). “Desiderata” is Latin for “something desired as essential.” There is a controversy as to whether “Desiderata” is copyrighted or already part of the public domain.

“Desiderata” by Max Erhman

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.
Hey, why don’t you try writing your own poem or essay based on this picture?