That Which is Necessary or Desired


Recently I’ve been struggling with what to write on here. There are few limitations to the meti√®re, but I was torn; was what I had to say important enough to share? The longer it took to make my point (and I do favor long posts) the more important it became to say something of substance.

It’s not that I’m being modest (trust me, I’m never modest) but it seemed to me that life is so cluttered, so noisy, that it might be better that I keep my mouth shut than add to the cacophony, at least until I could say something succinctly and vividly enough to be a worthwhile read.

I have dozens of drafts cluttering up the hard drive; half formed arguments and semi-opaque thoughts. Typically I threw them over in disgust because I was heading towards polemicism and I couldn’t figure out how to pull out of the dive.

And then yesterday I stumbled across this line of poetry:

“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

In one bloody line, someone had encapsulated what I have spend hours upon hours writing about and explaining to clients. Wholesome discipline. Be gentle with yourself. MutherFUCKER!

So I looked it up, and there it was; Desiderata. 90-year-old prose poem penned by an Indiana lawyer. Staple wall-hanging of waiting rooms and hotel lobbies. I’ve read it dozens of times, but just then, every line was a goddamn revelation.

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

It’s not that I don’t have things to say, it’s that they are coming out quite parochial, and in reality they are more flexible than that. In reality, they are profound, nuanced. But I am a sharp-edged person. I’m like the Red Queen. My writing style is rambling, capricious, even imperious and these things I want to talk about… they require earnestness. They require humility (yeah, I know. That’ll be a stretch.)

So since I can’t create that tone on my own, I’m going to steal it. I’m going to use the tranquility of Desiderata to guide my reflections, to uncover the nuance, to evoke the right tone.

I’ve been storing this up for a while, so be ready. ūüôā I’m thinking daily posts for a bit, but I’m not promising anything.

Meanwhile, I wanna know, which line in Desiderata speaks to you the most?


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


14 thoughts on “That Which is Necessary or Desired”

  1. “Do not stress yourself with imaginings.” All we have are thoughts. Why imagine crappy crap? Training my attention is my life’s practice and this adage is the best counter to unhappiness. IMHO

  2. I’m glad to see your words here, but I’m glad you didn’t force anything out on the blog. I’ve felt more and more strongly lately that if you can’t do better than the default – nothing (a.k.a. silence) – than don’t try and beat the awesomeness that is nothingness.
    Maybe my words should be incorporated into Desiderata?

  3. At this moment, “‚ÄúBeyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself” and “You have the right to be here” speak to me most loudly. Particularly the first one. It captures the tension I feel between trying to hold myself to systems and schedules and do-it-because-it’s-good-for-me-s and being kind and gentle and forgiving with myself. Because either side won’t work — there must be a middle road. As for the second one…I feel like it’s giving me permission to take up space, in lots of different arenas. Not that I require permission…but sometimes it’s nice to have it granted anyway.

  4. I like “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.” My latest victory over the darkness seems to be realizing that I am in charge of my life, and I know better than any other how to spend it. I clearly stopped trusting the institutions long ago, but hadn’t shed their mantras, stamped into my brain for years, that they knew better what was good for me (church, parents, etc). I like the idea of being “no less than … the stars.” ūüôā

  5. “You have the right to be here” is a good reminder for me because sometimes I forget. And¬†“Do not stress yourself with imaginings” is a good one too. Thoughts can really wear a person down sometimes.

    1. deniseurena¬†Thoughts are definitely a double-edged sword. I enjoy few things more than plotting and planning, but it’s easy to wear myself out going round in circles.

  6. “…do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.”¬†
    My imaginings are running roughshod over my heart (and my head and my gut) these days. I’m having the same kinds of second- and third-thoughts lately, Shanna! …About what to write, what to do first, what to do next, how to “get it all done” – in the time I’ve left available. ARrrgghhh!¬†
    Thank you for both stepping up and posting this, and for including the whole Desiderata – I’ve always loved it (it’s the whole basis for “how I aim to live”), but have clearly (to me and my imaginings¬† {:O¬† ) lost track of its’ wisdom lately!¬†

  7. michaelwroberts

    “Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to all even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.”
    I get caught up in listening to only a select few voices in the thoughts that they’ll have all the answers I need, but life is too messy for that. Kernels of wisdom are in the strangest places, even the “dull and ignorant.” I can only find that wisdom through clear communication – sharing and listening.

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