Live Meaningfully – By Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A
As I write this, on the eve of my birthday, I am filled with a special sort of reflection, nostalgia, gratitude and an interesting sort of wistfulness. My mother and father always described birthdays as perhaps the most important time of year to reflect upon where you are, where you’ve been and to where you are going… and I suppose some lessons are just hardwired that way.
I think of the time that has come and gone, the choices that have been made and the losses and gains that have been survived. I think of the people in my life who I count among the most important and the wishes I have for them and for my relationships with them. As I take in a deep breath and blow out the candles tomorrow, my wish will undoubtedly include those who have formed and loved and impressed upon me what it means to be human and alive and what it means to live with grace. It may include the past, present and future but it will most certainly be for those intangible things that offer meaning and connectedness.
As such, it seems a good moment to refer to (and share) my tried and true favorite piece of written work. It never ceases to stop me in my tracks and highlight exactly the lesson I need at the moment. I hope it offers the same for you.
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, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.
Til the next time,
Be Well; Live Meaningfully.
Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A. practices at 2150 Park Avenue North as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and can be reached at www.livemeaningfully.net or 407-796-2959.