Internalizing “Desiderata” During The COVID-19 Lockdown


I am not keen on reading thick books and novels. It bores me, and I find it a waste of my time. I do, however, love to read and re-read self-help and self-development books and poems. One prose that got me through this pandemic lockdown was Max Ehrmann’s DESIDERATA. This poem was about living life with high ideals while practicing ethical values along the way. It was said that the poem was a lesson for her daughter back then, which became a timeless piece of written art that has a very powerful meaning that will never go out of date.

Throughout this blog, I will paste in words from the poem DESIDERATA. I will input my understanding, learnings, and realizations on it, especially at this pandemic time, and how it has helped me, soldier, on.

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.

I had to bite my tongue when my boss told all of us that we were being laid off because of the lockdown. Businesses have shut down, and some have gone bankrupt. Some of my colleagues demanded this and that from our employer, but I remembered not to burn the bridge. It is just money that they are after, and I know that this pandemic will pass. In time, I will have work again. And so, when the boss said we have a week at the office and will close down, I reached out and told her that I hope she recovers from her business loss too. Go placidly, that was in my thoughts. Be on good terms with all persons. I kept on repeating that in my mind. And because I did that, my boss, she referred me to another company that was still open so that I would not be jobless.

Realization: Accept failure graciously and do not sour grape. In time, connections will be able to help as it did mine. I was just quiet and patient.


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.

I like this new boss of mine. He is like my grandfather, very outspoken, and his words are like poetry in my ears. The old man is extremely rich but very down to Earth. Can you imagine a millionaire who wears an old white shirt to a Zoom meeting, drives a Prius and lives in a modest home? I listen to his advice all the time because it is right all the time. I am so happy to be a part of his business and to be in this career.

Realization: Humility will get you a thousand miles in business, but you also have to be prudent and meticulous. Listen to the words of older people because most of the time, they know what they are saying. I took on this job because I lost my old one due to the pandemic. The offer was below my salary rate, but I did not distress myself with dark imaginings. This was a sudden misfortune, but I had to nurture my spirit. And so I did.


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 in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

My sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy amidst the COVID-19 scare. I lost my job of five years, but it was replaced instantly. The pay is less, but I am gaining more knowledge. My brother is getting better since it is lockdown and no way to buy his poison. He is clean now, and I have the lockdown to thank for that.

Realization: There are only two things you can do in life, which you can control – be happy or be sad. I chose the former because being happy makes me a better person. The pandemic may have brought a lot of bad things, people dying, getting terribly sick, and all, but the resiliency of a human being and, of course, being humane at this trying time was witnessed. Kindness was witnessed. Life is beautiful if you look at it in that way.