Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Friday Night Special: Don’t Give Up

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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…

Desiderata
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.

*      *      *

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.”

*      *      *

26 Comments

  1. LOVE your photo Jennifer! If only you were as old as I you would not have to worry. I’ve turned so gray during Covid that it passes reasonably well for blond.

  2. This wise and instructive piece has been part of our lives for years. It appeared on top of Allison’s file cabinet in the first home we owned, in 1961 on Fourth Avenue South in Franklin, in a tall plastic frame. Just now we were talking about it, she remembering times she had turned to it in difficult moments. Lotta truth, lotta inspiration in those words. Thanks for calling it back to attention.

    And a fine pic of you at the start. A quite smart mask.

    • I hate masks but I could kind of get used to them as a fashion accessory. That being said, what about those bags under my eyes? OMG. Maybe I need a full face mask? I love knowing that you & Allison had this poem in your home in 1961. xoxo

  3. I guessed it before I saw it- Desiderata.
    I had that on a plaque in our home when you and Cheryl were growing up, so it means a lot to me as well!
    That was especially special at this time.
    I like you with your mask on! Flattering- and glad you’ve gotten your hair done! Shops here opened up today at 5 pm, I think, but I dare not call till next week. You can imagine my hair; I had an appt for March 25 for cut and color. But it’s been in the of Corona!

    • I thought I remembered it from our home ~ but Cheryl was the one who definitely remembered it. I love that!! That was a good gift you gave us, among many. I’m sure your hair is a little scary, like mine was. I know it will feel good to you to get back to the beauty shop too!! Love you. xoxo

  4. I was just thinking how glamorous you looked in foils and mask!!

  5. The photo! The poem! And then Peter Gabriel. Wow, that song brings back a lot of memories. Thank you for all of your work on Bacon , especially during these long unusual weeks.

    • Dearest Julie ~ I can’t decide whether it feels good or bad for a song to take us back so powerfully. Let’s discuss at next book club. Thank you for being one of the bravest, strongest women I know. xoxo

  6. Peter originally reached out to Dolly to record the companion vocal, but she declined, so Kate Bush did it: https://petergabriel.com/release/dont-give-up/

  7. You are truly a brave person!

  8. I think your mask is on upside down!

  9. I remember Desiderata—it seemed to be everywhere!—but it seems fresh again, and I see its wisdom from a different perspective. “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.” Still deeply comforting.

  10. Jennifer, you are certainly the best dressed bank robber of all time.

  11. I wrote out Desirata in longhand for my daughter when she was 13 and going through a particularly rough patch, but is good counsel for any age. And also this from Ehrmann: “Whatever else you do or forbear, impose upon yourself the task of happiness; and now and then abandon yourself to the joy of laughter. And however much you condemn the evil in the world, remember that the world is not all evil; that somewhere children are at play, as you yourself in the old days; that women still find joy in the stalwart hearts of men; And that men, treading with restless feet their many paths, may yet find refuge from the storms of the world in the cheerful house of love.”

  12. The poem is one if my favorites and so apropos at this time. Love your courage and humor!

  13. Love this, both your photo and the poem!

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