Recently a close friend of the family died, and I was reminded of one of her favorite sayings;
"Ryan (or whomever she happened to be speaking to at the time), you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars, and whether or not it is clear to you, your universe is unfolding as it should."
This quote comes from Max Ehrmann's poem "Desiderata." It seems that my recently deceased friend and I are not the only one who found inspiration in this poem, for I remember reading it off my grandparents wall as a teenager. Although I probably considered it bullshit hippy nonsense at the time, I now see it as one of the most eloquently stated personal philosophies I have come across.
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.
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.
Strive to be happy.
Both my friend's death and my current endeavor to start my own business have forced my to wonder just what it is that I stand for. Not to mention I am increasingly dissatified with just how little I do to help the environment. So here are some other manifestos/ mission statements/ personal philosphies I love:
Jonathan Adler as posted on his company's wesite:
We believe that your home should make you happy.
We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right.
Unless the husband is gay.
We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences.
We believe minimalism is a bummer.
We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing.
We believe tassels are the earrings of the home.
We believe in our muses: David Hicks, Alexander Girard,
Bonnie Cashin. Hans Coper, Gio Ponti, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman,
Yves Saint Laurent, and Madonna.
We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown.
We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always.
We believe in infantile, happy emblems like butterflies and hearts.
We believe celebrities should pay full price.
We believe in rustic modernism: Big Sur, A-Frame beach houses,
raw beams, and geodesic dome homes.
We believe in Palm Beach style:
Louis chairs, chinoiserie, Lilly Pulitzer, The Breakers circa '72.
We believe our designs are award winning even though
they've never actually won any.
We believe in Aid to Artisans.
We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants.
We believe in mantiques - suits of armour,
worn chesterfield sofas, heraldic tapestries.
We believe you should throw out your Blackberry
and go pick some actual blackberries.
We believe colors can't clash.
We believe in blowing your nest egg on our pots.
We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner.
We believe in irreverent luxury.
A messege I got in a going away card:
"Go surfing, wear flip-flops, and have fun."
Starbucks Mission statement:
Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.
The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:
Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.
Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.
Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee.
Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.
Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.
Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.
And, although I don't agree with all her opinions, I highly recommend Inga Muscio's book, "Cunt: A Declaration of Independence."
I'd love to hear how you feel about this topic.