If ever there was an instructional manual for life, this prose poem takes one of the top places.

An inspired timepiece with an ageless message – Lindsay Planer.

With all that has happened this week, I feel a major boost is in order. You know a good old ‘shot in the arm’ to balance things out a bit. Oh! I almost forgot, you may not know about everything that has happened.

Well, let me fill you in. A new president was elected, my rose bush lost its last flower, I had to make my way to the ER – all last Tuesday. And guess what? They kept me – at the ER, I mean – said they were unwilling to part with my smile. I fell for it.

So anyway, 10 days later, I am still in the hospital waiting patiently for my body to catch up with my mind.


Being forced to stay put (tethered with IV lines and monitor wires) set my mind free to wander and you would never guess where it went – back to 1971, a small wooden house in Barbados and an LP vinyl record labeled Desiderata – prose so powerful that it left a lasting impression in the mind of a nine year old.

I remember my big sister tacked a poster of it on the bedroom wall. It eventually turned yellow and wilted away but the words never left me.

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.

Now that totally takes the scariness out of being sick.

About Desiderata

As far as I can figure out, everybody wants to be happy: to find love, peace, success at something, feel a sense of purpose, belonging – and Desiderata is sorta like a blue-print for that.

Not set-in-stone commandments, more like guidelines that anyone can use, written in such clear, strong language that it makes complete sense – so inspiring.

And in case you want an optional explanation, Michael Shook (A Life of Light ) did a phenomenal job. The version I remember from childhood was the 1971 album by Les Crane on Warner Brothers label. I don’t think I can ever forget the soothing undulations of that dulcet toned voice.

The Facts
  • Desiderata: latin; plural – things that are necessary or highly desirable for life.
  • Written: 1927 by Max Ehrmann – American writer of German descent.
  • Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945): One heck of a man.  Attorney in hometown Indiana; meatpacking (family business); overall manufacturing; writer; poet. He was never famous during his lifetime but I doubt that his name will be forgotten.
  • Desiderata: relatively unknown until it was used in a devotional and spoken word recordings in 1971 and 1972.

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Author: Juliette

A graduate of The University of Louisville, Juliette holds an M.Ed. and has been a teacher for over 35 years, specializing in Language arts, Reading and Math. She received two life-saving liver transplants in 2005 and now lives happily with her husband of 21 years in Louisville, Kentucky.

2 thoughts on “Desiderata”

  1. Jules
    This touched me. Had to read it twice. The Desiderata is something I use in my leadsrship coaching. Thanks for remindimg me how powerful it is.

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