Today is one of reflection and anticipation. I have certainly been challenged over the past several years while trying, with varying success to earn a living. To be sure, I have lived a good life and earned good income from my technical skill. I have always been trustworthy and perhaps a bit too trusting, thinking at times, surely someone wouldn’t be that underhanded. Sure enough, they manage to demonstrate their isn’t a ditch dug low enough in which humanity isn’t willing to occupy.
Many times I’ve been overwhelmed at the generosity of others and how they can still see my good points when my bad ones glare so profoundly. The latter part of that statement permits me most often to be willing to forgive others.
I thought today as I took a personal assessment, I’ve been willing to take quite a few knocks on the chin, some of them by those seemingly closest to me. I think many of us have found ourselves in a similar situation. It’s disturbing and troubling when a spouse we have been devoted to or our children find ways in which they can hurt us. I find it’s probably because all of us to one degree or another are self-centered and unable to empathize with someone having a difficult time or different experience in similar conditions. Such are the vagaries of life.
Through the ‘fog of peace’ I’m amazed at how willingly people surrender liberties for the promise of security. I can’t help but wonder what this country will be like if I’m around for another 20 years? I spent years in the military at a time when our country was involved in a war on an almost defenseless country. Only their determination saved them in the long run and our ignorance continues as we believe we have the right to impose our will on the rest of the world.
Our collective moral compass is vastly off course as we continue the practice of destroying defenseless life itself before it has the opportunity for greatness or failure. Our lack of commitment to properly raise the next generation as we flit about our intimate relationships like bees to flowers is disturbing. Procreation as recreation continues to reap the whirlwind as our society spins out of control.
As I reflected on personal condition with thankfulness of the things with which I can count in the positive column of life, I’m reminded of the Max Ehrmann poem Desiderata.
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 the 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 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.
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 with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann c.1920
Not to be lost among the contemporary wisdom is this video narration of an essay written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen