Sunday, July 19, 2009

Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Ever since I can remember, the Desiderata was on my mother's dressing table, framed. I didn't think of it as a 'poem,' so much as just 'the Desiderata.' I absorbed it wholesale while having my hair dried as a child, and when I grew up and left home, it only seemed natural to print up a copy, frame it, and hang it by my own dressing table. My last ex-boyfriend from hell once suggested that I take it down and put up some other, different inspirational words, since 'those have been there long enough.' What a nitwit. The ex-boyfriend is long gone, the words are still there.

But lately, in this time of economic struggle and career confusion, I've been thinking about the ways in which my principles have shaped my life. Have they been good ones? Should I keep them? Or should I go in search of some other principles, ones which might bring me--well, if I can't have fame and fortune, solvency would be nice.

So I am inspired to re-examine the Desiderata in light of its specific effects on my life, hitherto. Line by line. If you get bored, there's the whole wide Internet out there. Hie thee hence.

As it happens, I do go placidly amid the noise and haste, and always have. Even when rioting in San Francisco in the early 90's, I was placid. That's probably why I didn't get arrested. I carry with me a serenity that is like a rope attached to an anchor in the center of the earth. When other people are panicking around me, flailing and gibbering and generating drama, I get progressively more placid and serene, in order to balance them out.

This is probably really annoying to people who aren't emotional parasites, which is probably why I have had a lifelong habit of attracting emotional parasites. (Present company excepted; emotional parasites don't read.) In latter years I have found that allowing myself to occasionally freak out--to show weakness and confusion, to admit that I am not, in fact, the Buddha--has allowed me to grow closer to healthy people, and keep the people at bay who like to put serene people on pedestals, then knock them off those pedestals and stomp on them.

Lesson learned: stay away from folks bearing pedestals.

I do indeed remember what peace there may be in silence. If a person has a problem with silence--that companionable silence of sitting in the same room, reading or working alongside one another for hours on end--that's a Red Flag. As in, "I can't do my Pilates workout/work in the garden/have sex with you, with you sitting there reading/sleeping on the couch/sewing like that. Stop it."

Silence is all the more peaceful when one of these individuals has left the building forever.

To be continued.


Unknown said...

Yay, I love the Desiderata. I found a framed print of this amidst naked lady and motorcycle posters when I was looking to decorate my first apartment, freshman year of college. I'd never seen it before but it immediately spoke to how I naturally lived in the world, and so I put it on my wall for the next bunch of years. I think I took it down when I was reconsidering my own guiding beliefs, and whether those were the particular ones I still needed to emphasize, or whether perhaps I already lived those easily enough that I could/should balance myself out with something else. Looking forward to hearing more of your musings on this.

Carol Diehl said...

Thanks for this! I didn't know the Desiderata, and think having that as a childhood memory would be a wonderful way to grow up. Are you making a copy for your dressing table? What? No dressing table? Might be a reason to get one. I love the association of the piece with a place where you beautify yourself to go out into the world.

Chris Rywalt said...

You have to admit, it is tough to have sex with you when you're sleeping on the couch. And forget sewing.

Spatula said...

Lady, you probably know works by Sister Wendy Beckett, but on the off chance you don't, you might really enjoy her meditation series, especially the Meditation on Silence.

I don't know about serenity being a predator magnet, though. I am the least serene person I know, all zipping and rippling with barely contained anxiety, and freaks just can't get enough of me.

I think maybe the targets tend to be kind people who have empathy and a conscience, both calm ones and the ones that are... not so much.

damer said...

Thank you, it's been very interestingly. I'm truly grateful. It is interesting to read comments.