Desiderata

Today I´m sharing another text that I kept for many years on my bedroom wall, this time in my parents´ house. Thanks Lucía for reminding me how beautiful and inspiring it is, almost a century after being published:

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,
sino 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.

Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann © 1927

Life, laughter, love

Continuing with the art tour of my own house, this picture is patiently waiting for us to hang it on my bedroom wall:

Irish words for Life, Laughter, Love, written with latin alphabet and Ogham

Beatha, Gáire, Grá are the three Irish words for Life, Laughter, Love… The only one I know how to pronounce properly is Beatha [ba-ha], and it’s a word I’m very fond of, those who work with me will know why ;-)

The lines are the same three words written in Ogham, the earliest written form of primitive Irish. The Ogham alphabet has twenty letters, each represented by one or more lines, and when it´s written vertically like here, it´s read from bottom to top.

Three simple yet powerful words, written in three different ways, reminding me to pay attention to what really matters.

Inspiring possibilities

clear light bulb placed on chalkboard

The other day I bumped into this quote, and I liked it so much that I wrote it down on my kitchen whiteboard, that giant whiteboard that I am so fond of and find so useful:

When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t. 

This has been the topic of conversation for a few days at home. It strikes me as a wonderful invitation to open our minds, and appreciate that, for any given situation, there may be other options and perspectives that haven´t even crossed our minds.

At the time I didn´t see who the author of the quote was, I´ve had to look it up now to find out it was Thomas Edison. And next to that quote I´ve found this other one, which for some reason I used to attribute to Albert Einstein:

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Or as Pablo Picasso used to say: inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. Another genius, like Einstein and Edison.

And there are many, many more quotes by Edison, but I´m going to stop after this third one, which I also loved:

We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.

This last one, depending on how we take it, can make us feel very small in comparison with the immensity of the universe. But we can also turn it around so that it makes us feel excited, for all the room we still have to grow, learn, and discover :-)

And you, what inspires you to think about this world of possibilities?

Fridge magnets

I´m not sure how the tradition first started, but it was a long time ago: in my family, whoever goes on a holiday usually brings back fridge magnets as souvenirs. It may seem silly, but I think it´s a nice gesture... Every time I visit my parents or siblings, I spend a good while inspecting their fridge magnets, going over the old familiar ones, and looking for new additions. I have contributed with a few of them myself, of course. And sometimes the same magnet can be found in several houses, in either the same or a slightly different version.

That is perhaps why I have a soft spot for fridge magnets, which together with my fondness of magnetic whiteboards, results in a considerable amount of magnets at home :-)

Some of them I keep always on display, some others I rotate over time. Some of them are presents from family or friends, while others are presents to myself! Today I´m leaving these three here for you, with their cool messages:

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful
Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won´t get you anywhere
I literally love literature
  • Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.
  • Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won´t get you anywhere.
  • I literally love literature.

Peace and good

Yesterday, as I was searching around the house looking for something else, I found this:

Wooden pendant in the shape of a Tau (franciscan symbol)

My Tau, so many good memories...

Tau is a Greek letter, equivalent to T in Latin, and it's also a Franciscan symbol. According to an explanation I heard once and really liked, being one of the last letters of the alphabet, Tau symbolizes the spirit of simplicity and service to others that St. Francis of Assisi had.

My friend Bárbara was telling me the other day that deep down, all religions and spiritual teachings end up taking us to the same truths, which we can arrive at through many different paths… In my particular case, I grew up in a Catholic environment; that's my family tradition and a big portion of my social background, so it was through Catholicism that I took my first steps in the journey of spirituality.

Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, I attended a school run by Franciscan friars, and I have very special memories of the religious celebrations, prayer groups, retreats and pilgrimages I participated in with them, also later on during my college years. Above all, I loved the feeling of joy and peace that the friars conveyed, their spirit of prayer and service, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and lend a helping hand for whatever it was that needed to be done.

Then as years went by, I started leaning more towards secular spirituality, which is where I am nowadays, but I'm totally convinced that the background is really the same, the Spirit is really the same, only with a different name. And I can't help thinking that for example the mantras and meditations that are practiced in yoga very closely resemble the meditative chants at those Easter celebrations in the convent of El Palancar.

Today I want to share with you a couple of pearls of wisdom from St Francis. First, a prayer that to me is as simple as it is beautiful:

Señor, haz de mí un instrumento de tu paz.
Donde haya odio, ponga yo amor,
Donde haya ofensa, ponga yo perdón,
Donde haya discordia, ponga yo armonía,
Donde haya error, ponga yo verdad,
Donde haya duda, ponga yo la fe,
Donde haya desesperación, ponga yo esperanza,
Donde haya tinieblas, ponga yo la luz,
Donde haya tristeza, ponga yo alegría.
Maestro, que no me empeñe tanto
en ser consolado como en consolar,
En ser comprendido como en comprender,
En ser amado como en amar
Porque dando se recibe,
Olvidando se encuentra,
Perdonando se es perdonado,
Y muriendo se resucita a la Vida Eterna.

And second, a phrase I discovered recently that is also attributed to him:

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi

Being expert enough

Continuing with our art tour of the posters around my house, today I want to share with you this other manifesto. It used to inspire me some time ago, and it´s now resonating strongly with me again. I feel that, after spending over a year in a state of hibernation, the time is finally here to go out into the world again, to practice everything I´ve learned.

And what have I learnt? Among other things, that it´s not a question of having all the answers (or all the knowledge, or all the experience), but of having a genuine interest and willingness to learn, and above all, of being confident that you can do it, and that you´re going to do it well enough.

The EXPERT ENOUGH manifesto. We are all capable of so much more than we think. Most people never scratch the surface of what they´re capable of. Expertise is relative. Expertise doesn´t come from a piece of paper. Life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things. "Know'it'all", "Jack of all trades" and "Renaissance man" are compliments. LIFE IS AN EXPERIMENT. You don't have to wait for permission, and you don't need anyone else to grant you status. It's not about being the world's greatest expert. It's about being expert enough to accomplish your goals. The more you use creativity, the more you get. Brilliance lies within each of us. Go now. Live. Play. Explore. FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. Learn more. Do more. Be more.

Unfortunately there´s no Spanish version for this one, and the original website seems to have disappeared, but I can translate it here:

The EXPERT ENOUGH manifesto.
We are all capable of so much more than we think. 
Most people never scratch the surface of what they´re capable of. 
Expertise is relative. Expertise doesn´t come from a piece of paper. 
Life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things. 
"Know'it'all", "Jack of all trades" and "Renaissance man" are compliments.
LIFE IS AN EXPERIMENT. 
You don't have to wait for permission, and you don't need anyone else to grant you status. 
It's not about being the world's greatest expert. 
It's about being expert enough to accomplish your goals. 
The more you use creativity, the more you get. 
Brilliance lies within each of us. 
Go now. Live. Play. Explore. 
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. 
Learn more. Do more. Be more.

A sentence up on the wall

Every now and then I´m going to leave around here one of the quotes and sayings that most resonate with me. This one I saw for the first time as a child, in a magazine, and even though I didn´t fully understand it at the time, it caught my attention:

A man only possesses what he cannot lose in a shipwreck

Hindu proverb
Hook Head lighthouse, in county Wexford (Ireland), where the rocks and the mighty winds have surely caused more than one shipwreck.

This is your life

Well, here I am, starting to write blog entries again, after what feels like an eternity.

A lot can happen in eight years... Some of the topics I used to write about back then are less relevant to my life nowadays. Some others remain constant, if one can call them that, given that they also evolve over time, like life itself :-)

And what better way to begin again than with the Holstee manifest, which I have hanging in my living room, and which inspires me every time I look at it:

Holstee manifesto (Spanish)
Holstee manifesto (Spanish)
Holstee manifest (English)
Holstee manifesto (English)