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.
The above was written by Max Erhmann, an attorney from Terra Haute, Indiana sometime in the 1920’s. There is some confusion surrounding the history and the story of this and for years it was circulated as “author unknown.”
I first discovered it in 1996 when at a purveyors house acquiring illegal narcotics. My drug use by this time had long lost its “fun” and I was deep in the darkness of self-hatred that consumed me as the drugs lost their “magic”. I tried desperately to escape my pained reality, of course to no avail.
This was less than a year out from my first admittance into a drug rehab facility. I was lost, angry, scared, vengeful, doubted an existence of God or Source, I didn’t want to live, but was afraid to die.
The purveyor had this framed on a small wall between his living room into his kitchen. The first time I read it, it was as if a bolt of lightening shot thru me and I began to cry. The purveyor, Chef (as he was called for his ability to cook meth) was taken aback by my reaction and told me so.
“People who come thru here barely notice that piece, Joey, let alone cry about it. You’re a good man.”
Months later when I knew I was leaving California for rehab, I went to say goodbye and aquire more dope. As I was leaving, Chef took the frame piece off the wall and handed it to me, looked me in the eye and recited verbatim it to me. Again, I began to just cry ( even now as this memory is recalled).
I have it hanging on the small wall between my living room into my kitchen.