Friday, January 8, 2010

Go placidly amid the noise and haste

that's right...i've been dating myself---in the artist's way kinda in indulgent-quality-time-on-one's-own. my versions of this have been meals out, films, music-ing, library, writing [aka 'journaling']; many of the usual suspects...sorry! no real adventures to report----i really do live my life on the inside...but you probably knew i just have to start accepting the fact.

anyway, last night i headed to my favorite thai place downtown for quiet dining. sat down. ordered a house red. and was then assaulted by a gang, gaggle, brace, hoard-----whatever you call the roving bands of 20-somethings, which i've found to be a particular specialty of the uk, in general, and norwich [a college town] in particular. [actually called a 'generation gap' here and is an acknowledged split in society] the thirteen assembled for, what seemed to be, their last supper. they were extraordinarily proud of how well they could overtake the restaurant's small size and the also diminutive, quiet, courteous asian staff and showed it with a look-at-me pub/club crowd fervor. to be fair to the youngins, the 'adults' whom i assumed to be someone's parents---and, most likely, the sponsors of the evening on the town---were the worst offenders. [trying to regain a forever lost youth, one supposes]

i ate more quickly than i would have liked, though i did take my time with the wine as i shot the occasional, ineffectual acid glance over at the screamers of vulgarity. the noise they produced could have helped to solve the energy crisis, if only the black box existed to make the transformation of sound into power. it was literally painful to me. but what i found worse was the content of most of the decibel-age: yelling, asking if anyone had a condom so that they could 'have it off' in the bathroom, making fun of the asian staff, etc. look-at-me stuff...

on the way home, ears still ringing, i stopped in front of a storefront to find a calligraphy rendering of the following poem:

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 to the dull and 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.

(c) Max Ehrman 1926

...and it was then that my tragic evening alchemically transmogrified into comedy!

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