Tag Archives: Soul

Go placidly amidst the noise and the haste

We’re back on for 2013!

Sarah Fortuna - desiderata-smaller

99 tips for a better world: go placidly amidst the noise and the haste (12 of 99)

I grew up with Desiderata on the back of the kitchen door. My friend Lara had it on the back of her toilet door. We both memorised it, as you do when you are a kid, in much the same way that you would memorise the text on a Weet-Bix packet or every word in the liner sleeve of your favourite CD.

At first I just liked its metre and read the verses over and over. As a ten year old I also found the line about ‘the dull and the ignorant’ delightfully subversive. As I got older I realised a deep fondness for this poem that seemed to encapsulate every important life lesson. And yet, it wasn’t heavy. It made a well-lived life sound easy.

I got a bit teary last week when guests read Desiderata aloud at my friend Meaghan’s wedding. Twenty years after reading it on my kitchen door, and after more hours of soul searching than I care to admit, Desiderata still seems to have the answers. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and just paid attention the first time. What I have learnt in those 20 years, though, is that sometimes the simplest lessons are harder to follow than you expect.

Lara and I spoke again about how much we loved this poem (a conversation we’ve had many times over the years). Lara observed, ‘I love Desiderata because you notice a different verse each time you read it and it seems to be the verse you need to hear at the time’.


Go placidly amidst 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 vexatious 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. 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 shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy

Max Ehrmann (1872–1945)

“It’s inhumane the pace at which people live in this society”

Liz Gilbert and me

A few of us headed up to Sydney last weekend to see Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Sydney Opera House.

I am a huge fan – follower might be more accurate – of Liz Gilbert. I have read Eat, Pray, Love numerous times (it’s a handy book to love because there is usually a copy in any hostel you ever stay in). It’s become one of those books I read for relaxation and comfort. It’s like a 350 page reset button for me. It’s a story about travel, language, history, spirituality, self-knowledge and personal drama – my favourite things. It’s light and funny too, so a delight to read for strong stretches from a cosy position on a couch or a less cosy position at a boarding gate.

Liz Gilbert is also a wonderful public speaker and reflects thoughtfully and wisely on a range of topics that seem to overlap with so many of the topics I wonder about too. I guess that is the gift of Liz Gilbert – her ability to reflect so calmly and clearly upon ideas that are swirling around in the heads of so many of us. Her self-assured and calm certainty is also wonderful for someone like me, who often crowds out any pinholes of wisdom with self doubt and the good opinion of others.

I was delighted while watching this long interview below, that Liz spoke to that desperate feeling that I (and I know many others) had about returning to regular, busy, scheduled life after holidays. Skip forward to around 29 mins (if you’re in a hurry) for some wisdom on the indefensible pace of our lives.


Nine learnings on privilege and diversity

I am a big fan of Courtney E. Martin, whom I’ve written about before – the first time about her great piece, Crisis of Attention and Intention.

So I was delighted to read this piece, Nine learnings on privilege and diversity, which feels like a nine-point companion piece to my blog post from a couple of weeks ago, A day at the dairy.

How about this:

1. Friendship is the most powerful “diversity strategy” there is.

There is nothing more important than creating meaningful and organic relationships with people across the various borders that have historically divided us. It is through these real relationships–whole, vulnerable, reciprocal–that we really learn about our own blind spots and the beauty of others’ perspectives.

And this:

8. It’s not about making policies for people, but making policies with people.

People at the decision-making table need to reflect the diversity that you want your policies to reflect. Asking, “How will this affect marginalized people?” is another worthwhile, but inadequate question. Better yet, let marginalized people help architect the policy in the first place.

The other seven points are worth reading too. Courtney was writing on the Center for Courage and Renewal website. I like the sound of them.

What I have to offer

Find five minutes to watch this. It’s worth it.

An excerpt from a speech by Charlie Kaufman (delivered in September 2011 as part of the BAFTA’s 2011 Screenwriters’ Lecture Series).

When I grow up…I want my very own teahouse

ArchDaily has changed the focus on my life’s ambitions (which are admitedly pretty vague) by writing about a teahouse in the Czech Republic.


Oh man, I want one sooooo bad!


Take a look at the originial post for lots more photos, including Tea House in the Snow.

UPDATE: MJ suggested I build a tea house in the backyard at Rushworth! Ask and you shall receive…