Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My favorite quote

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 vexations 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 fortune of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this 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 the way 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. - Max Ehrmann, 1927

I keep a list of some of my favorite quotes, its fun to go back and peruse through the wise one-liners that give timeless advice. One of my absolute favorites however is certainly not a one liner. The first time I read this quote I was in high school, and although I appreciated the way it read, ya know the beautiful language and the make sense truths about life, I didn't really see it for it's wisdom. For instance..."Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans..." when you are seventeen plans are many and achievements are few. I understood but didn't really know the beauty of making sure the journey is as enjoyable as the end result.

I hadn't thought about this quote for years and then recently I came across it again. When I read it again this time I was overwhelmed at how much valuable information is in this one paragraph. I said to myself, if you could tell your child how to live their life in a paragraph...wouldn't this be what you would read to them. Make them memorize. If I had followed just a few of these lines over the course of my life, I would've certainly created simpler paths for myself.

It inadvertently makes me think of all the mistakes that I've made. Mistakes that could have been avoided, people that I've hurt and things that I have said and done that were not a representation of the person that I have become. There have surely been fears and insecurities over the years that have developed in my own heart from fatigue and loneliness. Max reminds us however, that at the end of the day we have all made mistakes, so ...."beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself...." because if I can't forgive me, then no one can. And despite my mistakes, I have been blessed with a wondeful life and an amazing select few who see past my faults and choose to know me and love me for who I am. That is priceless.

It's also very interesting that although this quote is from 1927 it still speaks to many of us today. I guess it's true that history repeats itself, the values that held steadfast then are the same ones that we embrace today. This quote is uplifting, it gives me hope. Even when things are not exactly where I want them to be, I remember that it is still a beautiful world, and I am still happy to be in it. So I will remain cheerful and continue to be happy.