My computer sits below a bulletin board, onto which I have dozens of pictures thumbtacked. They overlap the way a collage you made from magazine clippings in junior high would, although I didn’t go so far as to pin corny captions to it. Still, the pictures, most of which are from during my marriage to an Air Force operator, but some of which date back to childhood, conjure up memories and stir up emotions.
Next to the bulletin board is a plaque my mother gave me when I was 17 – “Desiderata,” by Max Ehrmann (Latin for “desired things”). She gave it to me when I was miserable from a broken heart and high school drama, but you know what? I’ve kept this plaque with me – had it hanging in every dorm room, apartment, townhouse, and house I’ve lived in – for close to the last 20 years. Everywhere I go, every new chapter of life I enter, its words speak to me, and its wisdom is timeless.
Being a military wife, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of going placidly “amid the noise and the haste” of life, remembering to find peace, to reflect on life, to “nurture the strength of spirit” for the betterment of the present, the understanding of the past, and the hope for future.
So it got me thinking… with so many military spouses out there, why not share stories which we all could relate to? Don’t we all desire to live with peaceful hearts and minds? Moving frequently, forming new friends, helping kids adjust, coping with deployments, reminding kids that Dad will be home soon, keeping a solid and passionate relationship alive, establishing new routines wherever we go, relying on the unparalleled network of neighborhood military families for the support that “normally” a hometown family would give, saying “until next time” to friends – who, in just a short span of time, became the best friends you’ve ever had.
This life is full of adventure, joy, surprises, stress, happiness, laughter, struggle, tears, smiles, support, friendship, lessons, curveballs, and winding roads that require innumerable deft turns, but that at least involve lots of pit stops at barbeques. That we can’t map out our lives more than the next year (or sometimes shorter) only makes the “noisy confusion of life” all the more … noisy … BUT, it is not impossible to “keep peace with your soul” and trust that “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
In times of stress, struggle, and tears, “Desiderata” uplifts my soul and reminds me how I want to live my life. In times of adventure, happiness, and laughter, it illuminates my great fortune and I feel totally, utterly blessed. I’m always a work in progress, but at least I can strive toward the good.
So I offer these stories to you, my readers, whomever you may be, and I invite you to comment and share stories back to me and to whomever is reading. Uplift, vent, declare, celebrate, question, reflect…. and through it all, may we all remember:
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.
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 sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. ~ Max Ehrmann, 1927.
~ Natalie, summer 2014