Thursday, October 1, 2009

On world-view, philosophy, self-reflection...

Throughout our lives we reflect and reconsider our view of the world. For some of us this is a more... well, conscious, process than for others. And some of us can take to extremes of rationality or emotion in their consideration of the world they live in. Often such reflective moments are "triggered" by dramatic, or profound, or both, events in our lives.

For me, I have noticed an increase in reflective process recently. As for the profound events... Well, there have been plenty, directly with me personally, or indirectly with friends and family. But that's not exactly what this is supposed to be about. Not directly, anyway.

What I do want this to be about, is to express my appreciation of a piece of poetry I came across during some of my ruminations. It's called Desiderata, and to its writer, it expresses the "things", the qualities, in life that are to be desired.

While I may not agree with all things stated, I think he has a powerful point about balance in life, about pride in your achievements ("however humble"), and about moderation in most things.

Desiderata - (c) Max Ehrmann, 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 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.