When words find you: Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”

I didn't want to get married at 24. It was a hard truth for both of us. She left and I fell apart. I was moving home to heal after weeks of inner turmoil. My therapists thought it best. They were right.

Anyone who knows me well can attest to how easily I lose everyday objects like car keys. I’ve lost a lot more important things in my life too. I believe this is how the universe has decided to offset how easily beautiful things tend to find their way to me. I am grateful. My spirit, a constant bartering between light and dark. The universe is far more balanced then we are willing to accept. Our focus drawn to the expenditure of energy during redistribution of weight. The tilts that occur during counterbalances that keep us from falling into despair. A re-calibration cosmically unfolding to contend with the gravity of our moment, situation, existence; this instance. Outside of the limelight, we are all Philippe Petit between the towering obstacles of our day to day lives.

Years ago, I was moving out of my apartment right before the new year. My lease was up and so was my relationship of six years. I lived on the third floor and didn’t ask anyone to help me move. It was the holidays and I didn’t want to bother my friends and family. I managed to get all the furniture out in one piece. The only exceptions were my chocolate micro suede love seat that I heaved over the balcony and the washer and dryer I left behind.

This was a particularly dark time in my life. One of the most difficult transitions I have ever experienced. I didn’t want to get married at 24. It was a hard truth for both of us. She left and I fell apart. I was moving home to heal after weeks of inner turmoil. My therapists thought it best. They were right.

As I discarded sections of the broken love seat, I heard the cracking of glass. I climbed over the edge and leaned over the side of the dumpster. Normally, I wouldn’t look over the edge of a dumpster to ensure I wasn’t breaking something of value but I did. I have never dumpster dived before that day. Trash was always trash before that day. I jumped in without thinking twice. What I saw was a picture frame with a tablet at its center behind shattered glass. The entire image was a collection of words. I found the words of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata. I jumped into the dumpster and grabbed the tablet from the frame. I read it. I fell in love. I found what I needed that day, that month, that year, this life.

That tablet hangs in my home to this day. I read it regularly. I hope you take the time to read it. These are words I live by. They resonate in every encounter I have. That moment taught me a valuable lesson. When I feel I am lost or being discarded, it is just the Universe clearing space for me to be found or to find something else. This is the balance I am referring to. The line we all walk and don’t give ourselves enough credit for. Know that you are amazing. I hope you take the two minutes it takes to read this poem by Max Ehrmann tonight. Start your year off right. Every year since I read that poem has gotten better for me. I wish the same for you.

My favourite lines are as follows:


“…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 vexatious to the spirit.”

“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.”

“…many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.”

“Be yourself.”

“Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.”

“… 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.”

“…the universe is unfolding as it should.”

“…be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.”

“…keep peace in your soul.”

“Strive to be happy.”

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