Desiderata


de·sid·er·a·tum
diˌsidəˈrätəm,-ˈrātəm,-ˌzidə-/Submit
noun
plural noun: desiderata
1. something that is needed or wanted.
"desired things"

I desire so many things. I'd love to be a writer. I want to speak another language. I want my room to feel like a sanctuary. I hope to be fit and healthy; to wake up naturally and full of energy. I want to be a great cook and have children and be married. I want to work at a nonprofit--to truly help people in need. I want to take up photography and take pictures that make people smile. I want to write a play--and a short story. I want to play piano and guitar. I want to work for Conan. I want to make a beautiful website. I want to start surfing. I want to be a yoga instructor. I want to work in a museum.

I think about these desires on a daily basis and yet I do not make any moves toward completing any of them. I am a healthy, young woman with a great brain--these desires are more than attainable if I set my mind to it. I was talking to a dear friend earlier today about how, often, my expectations for myself far exceed what I actually do in reality. We decided that it might be helpful to return to something that we used to do in college. Instead of going straight home after work or yoga, making dinner and plopping down on the couch to watch TV until I fall asleep, I'm going to grab my computer and head over to a local coffee shop and stay there for a couple hours, working on things for myself (and maybe even the greater good of mankind? I don't know! The sky's the fucking limit!).

If what I desire is a good and merry thing, and if that thing is attainable (even if it requires patience and practice and persistence), then why the hell am I not doing it? I don't feel a need to be the best at any of the things I listed above, but I do feel the need to try them out. It's probably important not to try and tackle all of the things at once--that's overwhelming to even think about. And that's usually where I get hung-up--I start listing all the things I want to do or be, thinking that they're all equally important to me, and then I can't figure out where to begin and I wind up doing nothing.

So today my goal is to pick a couple things from above and devote myself to figuring them out. I don't have to master anything--it's just time to start. I'm tired of desiring and doing nothing about it.

Whenever I'm feeling like I need a little perspective, I turn back to Max Ehrman's poem, Desiderata. The desired things--that is, happiness and contentment in life, loving others, being honest and true.

Here's the poem again, for reference. I'll probably be posting a lot more frequently as I'm figuring things out. If you don't want to get email updates just let me know!

            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.

            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 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, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

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