Happy Wednesday Ladies! There are so many things that inspire me – books, songs, movies, people, and quotes. And, today, I've got a poem for you all. I hope this poem will inspire you and be a source of encouragement to you when life is hard – as it has been to me for many years now. It's my favorite poem, or at the top of the list. It means so much to me that I actually embroidered each verse onto a block and made it into a quilt. It was my second quilt, I made it all by hand (this was even pre-owning a rotary cutter and mat;). I think I love it so much because it contains the essence of our ultimate human freedom and our unlimited power to create a life of love, joy and peace, regardless of our circumstances. The first 11 verses of the poem were written by Kent Keith, and the 12th verse was added by Mother Teresa.
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and fair, people may cheat you.
Be honest and fair anyway.
If you find peace and happiness, people may be jealous.
Be peaceful and happy anyway.
People really need help, but may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.
People claim to favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs.
Fight for the underdogs anyway.
The biggest ideas can be shot down by people with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you've got, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it was all between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway!
So, why do I love this poem so much?
1. First, let me say that I don't read this in terms of religious duty or of rules to follow, or in terms of the legalism that Jesus fought so hard against (Jesus was all about the heart ;) – that would kill the spirit of the whole thing.
2. Rather, I think this poem is about the last and ultimate source of our human freedom and power. There are so many things in our lives that we are not in control of – we don't get to decide what country we're born in, we don't get to pick our parents or our personalities, we don't get to choose how people will treat us, we can't control the government, or the weather . . . !
3. Yet, we do have this ultimate, incredible power and freedom to choose one last thing! It's a power and a freedom that no one can ever take from us. And, that is the power to choose how we will respond to whatever comes our way.
4. And, if we don't recognize this power and freedom – and use it, if we believe we are powerless, well, that's a quick road down the path to anxiety and depression.
5. I believe that our base nature as human beings is good, loving, kind, compassionate, creative, and generous . . . but, our egos can really get in the way of all of that. "Ahhh, the ego" (I love that line in the movie "Bruce Almighty", remember when Morgan Freeman says that to Bruce? Cracked me up :) – and I digress)! Anyway, we are at our weakest and least free when we make life a battle between ourselves and another person or our circumstances.
6. But, when we see life from a different paradigm, when we see the bigger picture, that something greater lies within us, and we have the power to choose to respond out of that – well, we can bring good things into the world!
7. Finally, this poem makes me think of the people who, throughout history, have lived in the spirit of this poem, and who inspire me so much. I think of the people in the Nazi Concentration Camps, I mean seriously, the absolute worst conditions even fathomable. Yet, there were people in those camps that exercised this, their last of human freedoms and power. They chose to share food with others, though they themselves were starving. They chose to share their blankets with people who were cold, despite the fact that they, themselves, were freezing! And, I just read this last night about these amazing women in my book "Mindful Eating" by Jan Chozen Bays, MD
"During World War II a group of women prisoners in a Japanese concentration camp in Sumatra wrote down musical scores from memory and formed a choir. Too weak to stand, they performed sitting down. Half the choir died in a year's time. But they forgot the terrible hunger of their emaciated bodies as their hearts were filled with the music they created together. 'Each time (we had a concert) again it seemed a miracle, that among those cockroaches and rats, and the bedbugs and the dysentery, the smells of the latrines, that there could be that much beauty, that women's voices could actually do this, and bring this to this horrid camp,' one of the singers later recalled."
8. The sheer power of the human spirit to bring forth love, kindness, compassion and beauty, in spite of any circumstance astounds me. And, that human spirit, it's in you, it's in me, it's in all of us. This poem reminds me of that. It brings me back to the amazing potential of the human spirit when my ego has gone amuck. It reminds me, that no matter my circumstances, I have within me the power and the freedom to respond with love, with kindness, with compassion and understanding, and the power to keep building, to create beautiful things, and to give the world the best I've got. That's why I love this poem.
P.S. Here are a couple of pictures of my "Anyway" quilt! It's so old, it doesn't match our décor so it's not hanging up anymore – and being my second quilt it doesn't have much in the way of "quilting skilz", but truly girls, this one was made with a whole lotta love and heart ;)!