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Desiderata 55

So, I’ve been a little busy lately. I’ve been doing lots of writing—for other projects, other people. This creative play-place had to be set aside. BUT it’s my birthday today. I thought I’d give myself and my creative play-place a little attention.

The thing is, I’m still busy. A full day of work and all that. I thought, “What have I written about birthdays in the past? Maybe that will inspire me.” I came across this from five years ago. It seems fitting.

Everything is unfolding as it should. It’s good that I’m interested in my career, however humble, and that it is keeping me so busy. And this should make the “vexations to the spirit” on the bus ride home tonight a little easier to handle.

What part of “Desiderata” do you need today?

Do you struggle to speak your truth and be heard? Do dark imaginings haunt your nights? Are you having trouble believing that it is a beautiful world?

I had a poster of “Desiderata” in my room at university; its words steadied me through four years of study. I often glanced at those words on the wall in times of stress, frustration, or joy. No matter what was happening in my life, something in “Desiderata” fit the situation.

“. . .  whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” is a touchstone phrase for me. I sustains me through those times when I wonder why this crazy life if unfolding the way it is.

When a loud and aggressive person disturbs my day, I think,You are a vexation to my spirit.” The phrase helps me determine the people with whom I should spend more time or less time.

I celebrated my birthday recently, so the phrase, Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth” ran through my head often.

Read through these words today, and draw from them what you need to approach the day with a smile and renewed hope.


Go placidly amid the noise and 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 the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your 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 critical 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 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 with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927


The Golden Gun is more, and less, than a Golden Gun

Bond, James Bond. (Well, Roger Moore, actually.) In The Man with the Golden Gun he stands on the beach back to back with Scaramanga. (Christopher Lee, if truth be told.)  Scaramanga’s accomplice, Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize, as in Tattoo), counts down twenty paces in the duel. The camera cuts back and forth between the duel and Britt Ekland in a blue bikini. (Does anyone really care what her character’s name was?)

Scaramanga holds the Golden Gun. No, scratch that. Scaramanga holds a glued-together pen, cigarette case, cigarette lighter and cufflink, for those are the items glued together to form the famous Golden Gun.

Photo from Wikipedia

We visited “Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style” at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on the weekend. Is James Bond theme music running through your head already? Can you picture the gun barrel opening scene? James Bond music and imagery are such a part of our popular culture that even people who aren’t avid fans know them: James Bond himself, the metallic jaws of Jaws, Oddjob’s hat, and the Golden Gun.

Or rather, the golden pen, cigarette case, cigarette lighter and cufflink.

The Golden Gun is a widely known James Bond prop. It’s not just a gun, it’s the Golden Gun—the focus of one of the most famous James Bond scenes. The Golden Gun is revered, by some. The story that goes along with it makes it larger than life.

But, broken down to its essential bits, it is a pen, a cigarette case, a lighter and a cufflink.

People are like that, too. Broken down to our essential bits, we’re just molecules and atoms. Our physical components aren’t what make us interesting: our stories are. The most compelling stories grow out of simple physical materials.

The next time you bemoan your average height, your crooked nose or your less-than-perfect smile, remember, your simple physical components can play great roles. It’s the story you create with them that counts.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  —Mary Oliver,  New and Selected Poems

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