Sunday, August 16, 2015

and everywhere life is full of heroism

    I discovered this poem in a frame on the wall of a bathroom in a house where the classiest wedding reception I have ever attended was taking place. It was my friend's wedding, and I believe the poem was placed in the frame, and the frame in the bathroom, by her classy mom.


    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.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mysteries, Yes

I was strolling through the bookstore on my way to buy chocolate caramels for a friend, when a section of poetry books stopped me.  Mary Oliver caught my eye, and I picked up a book of her poems.  I flipped through the pages, reading some, liking them, but not feeling justified spending $14.00 to buy them until I read this one:

Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
  to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
  mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
  in allegiance with gravity
    while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
  never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
  scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
  who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
  "Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
  and bow their heads.

I tucked the book under my arm and carried it with me to the candy counter.  I purchased the poems and the chocolates, and headed out of the store, passing a book about the history of women's shoes and popping a chocolate caramel into my mouth, wondering if there is anything in this wide world that someone hasn't written a book about.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Parkway Authority

On the evening of January 27th, I switched cars with my brother – he took the Toyota Camry I usually drive, and I took the ’86 Nissan pick-up he usually drives – so he could have a respectable car to go to an interview and then on a date.  I parked the truck outside my residence, and he drove off with the Camry.  I completely forgot that the Camry had a parking permit sticker, and the truck did not.
The next morning, I left my apartment to go to work.  I hopped in the truck, turned the key in the ignition, and …. nothing.  The car wouldn’t start; instead there was just an ominous clicking sound.  I was going to be late for work, so I arranged a ride and resolved to deal with the broken truck later.  I finished my shift at work, went straight to class, and later that night when I finally finished everything I needed to do on campus, returned home.  Before going inside I decided to check on the truck to see if the battery had somehow miraculously recharged itself.  And that is when I found the boot.
The moment I saw it I realized my folly: the magic little parking sticker on the Camry flashed into my memory, the total absence of such a sticker on the truck suddenly so obvious.  I called the number on the warning taped to my driver’s side window, and the really nice guy who answered walked me through the process of getting it taken off and submitting an appeal.  He even told me it was likely that the agent who removed the boot would have jumper cables and could help me get the truck started (which did in fact happen, the next day – Thank you, Ta’an).
So, here I am.  I moved the car to a legal parking area until I can switch back with my brother, then came to campus to make copies of my receipts, write this note, and work on the necessary paperwork for this appeal.  I’ve learned my lesson – that Nissan truck will never again grace the pavement of the residence parking lot, at least not without its own parking permit – but I would really appreciate as many of the sixty-three dollars back as possible, seeing as next week I have to pay rent. 

  Please be merciful and generous. 

                                                                     Thank you,