Combing the art and craft section of a used book shop in search of a vintage gem with clear knitting pattern diagrams because I can't seem to get past more than a few minutes of various online instructional videos before being overwhelmed with boredom. Rose, where do thoughts come from? I am pulling down books in the dim crowded aisle to take over to a chair by the window when the word Desiderata pops into my mind.
Desiderata, the poem/treatise that told me that I was a child of the universe and I should be on good terms with all people and so much more. In the 70s, it was ubiquitous. In our house, Desiderata was in the form of a small, unframed poster. Desiderata is the first piece of philosophy/secular inspirational verse that I can recall reading. To this child, it was truth and it was wisdom. I took that piece of paper, burned the edges, pasted it to a piece of wood, and slathered it with varnish. And this is where the crafting section takes me — to poems forgotten and remembered and then forgotten and remembered. Do I really want to buy that wood burning tool and then make stuff that will be lost and forgotten or that later I will regard as cheesey? Did my decopauge plaque end up on a long dirty shelf filled with chipped coffee mugs, broken waffle irons, and cheap figurines in some thrift shop? Would the Desiderata still hold the same power?
So, yes, the answer is yes—maybe not so much power, but certainly beauty and truth. I scoffed not. Desiderata was written by Max Ehrmann, a lawyer living and working in Terra Haute, Indiana in 1927. He was 54 when he wrote it and he died decades before it became a cultural sensation—quoted by politicians and recited by actors—and too late to help his family wrangle in court over copyright issues. It ended up in the public domain. I'm trying to think of a current piece of writing that holds the same amount of collective sway and am drawing a blank. Can you think of something?
I am going to buy that wood burning kit and be open to whatever comes of it because re-reading Ehrmann's opus reminded me to enjoy my plans.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.