Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Friday Night Special: Don’t Give Up


Yesterday I drove to an adjacent county. It is important that my hair remains its *natural color. (“Dad and I think you’ve given up,” said my younger daughter last week. I have not given up.)

In other news, my sister’s twins turned 16. On their birthday my sister Cheryl Lloyd posted a poem on Facebook – some gentle life advice to them, if you will. Perhaps the poem is also for herself, and for the rest of us as well. Her kids are terrific, and finding their own way – as we all do. If you were alive in the 70s, you’ve probably seen this poem framed on someone’s wall…

by Max Ehrmann (1927)

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the 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 to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or 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 in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Thank you, Cheryl Herndon Lloyd, for reminding me of this beautiful meditation. For giving me the chance to be an aunt. And, you know, I kind-of like being your big sister. (I love being your big sister.)

“It is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

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