Desiderata

You are never more aware of the fragility and brevity of life than when a loved one passes away. The past ten days have been very hard, losing two family members from different sides of the family. One expected, one unexpected. One very old, and one too young. One overseas and one interstate.

After 91 and a half years on this earth, my awesome nana peacefully passed away. The following piece of prose was one of her favourites. The words carry so much meaning for living your life to the fullest. It truly can be considered ‘Rules to Live By’.

Thanks nana for sharing this prose with all of us.

Desiderata     

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.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Especially, do not feign affection.

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.

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A Lifetime Ago

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Whilst visiting the parentals recently I came across this photograph; that’s me on the left, such a cutie then! The girl on the right is my older sister. She passed away a month after my second birthday from neuroblastoma in 1981.

This photo surely captures a classic sisterly moment as we were close as toddlers and adored playing together, so I’m told. Sadly I have no recollections of her as a person, no matter how hard I look at photos like this. Though in my defence I was pretty little. I do have some very early memories, from aged 18 months to 2, that would have occurred whilst my sister was still alive. One is of dad building a sandpit in our backyard. There is a photo of us two sisters in the sandpit.

The other memory is visiting a friend of my parents and spending the day with her. I regularly spent the day with her and her 3 year old son while my parents spent nearly all of their waking moments with my sister at the hospital having her chemotherapy treatments. Most days I was out the door early, bag packed and being minded by friends and family. The only day I remember from that time was this one day, I was going with this friend to pick up her son from pre school. I distinctly remember seeing him sitting in the kindy and thinking he was so big and grown up, he goes to pre school! I can’t wait till I’m big enough to go to pre school. Such a strong memory from such an early age.

I have read that our earliest memories are built on ‘out of the ordinary’ moments that differed from everyday life. So you don’t remember people necessarily, or the interior of your first bedrooms and playrooms, but breaking an arm, being stung by a bee, going somewhere different, these are the things that stick out. This would explain why I have no recollections of my sister.

Such a lifetime ago, her short life and its impact on mine. In a blink of an eye I went from being the youngest sibling, to an only child, to the oldest when my brother was born 18 months later. Technically I am a middle child, but nurture won out on nature, I am the epitome of an ‘oldest’ sibling.

How different life would have been to have grown up with an older sister, I wonder if we would have been close.