Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste


  • -Online shopping can avoid the crush, and the online “shopping cart” buys time for contemplation before making the actual purchase. Here are some tips from Newsmax to help you purchase safely from legitimate and secure sources.

  • -A lot of us shop for the holidays in spurts, unaware of the cumulative bulk of what we’ve purchased until it’s time to wrap. Try spreading your gifts, especially those for the kids, out on your bed. An “aerial view” of your consumer habits might help avoid overspending.

  • -Trying to stick to a budget, and to have a reflective and joyful holiday? Consider gifts of time and talents. See this article, appropriately published by a credit counseling company!

  • -It sounds like Max Ehrmann was a simple man, but the history of his most famous poem, Desiderata, has been confusing. Here’s some information on the man and Desiderata’s origins.

  • Ehrmann never knew that the wishes he penned would come to fruition after he died: "I would like, if I could, to leave to my country a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods. My life is spent in a time and among a people of commercial interest, with its attending selfishness, cruelty and ostentation. "; “I would reclaim a little of the heart of man, infuse some gentleness into the stern ethics of trade, and make life the supreme art instead of acquisition.


My title today is also the start of Max Ehrmann’s timeless poem, Desiderata. It takes on enhanced meaning during the holiday season.

I started out going placidly--I really did--, scornful of the only-just-past-Halloween Christmas displays and shoppers in line at megastores before 4 AM on Black Friday. I wouldn’t be one of them. I was far above the madness.

It’s been a stressful week—one long day of commuting out of state for work, a round of layoffs way too close to home, lots of deadlines. So, despite the imminent approach of Christmas, I vowed to make this Saturday high on relaxation, low on expectations. I had to laugh at myself when my original list of three or four “to dos” morphed into more than 20, Christmas cards and gifts included, of course! I had to talk myself off the ledge of “must do it all today”.

We all know, at our core, what really matters. But the noise and haste of the season create a need to look for reminders of true importance. One such moment this week was Gavin’s delight in the first real snow of the season. He hastily pulled snow pants and boots over his pajamas, eager to taste the mini-drifts on the porch railing and falling backwards to make a string of snow angels. Days later, the melt created a temporary stream down the side of our yard, and Gavin ran to leap across it and look for places he could dam. I stepped to the porch that day and reveled in the mist fueled by melting snow and warming air.

Our gifts are already around us. Go placidly.


At 12/13/2008 8:52 AM, Blogger Jeri Dansky said...

What a wonderful bit of prose. I never though of combining the words of Desiderata with the holidays, but it's a perfect match! Thank you!

At 12/14/2008 5:59 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

Your message was perfectly timed. I very much needed it! Thank you.

At 1/12/2009 2:05 AM, Anonymous michaelm said...

A day late for this one.
If only I'd seen this in early December.
There's always next year, right?
Wonderful post with some creative ideas. Thanks.



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