In August of 2005, I was having a very hard time in a very hard place called Lokori. I found the following in an abandoned missionary house. It was warped from the heat, dusty, and hanging crookedly on the wall.



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 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 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 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 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 concieve 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 careful. Strive to be happy.

-Found in Old Saint Paul’s Church; Baltimore; 1692



10 Responses to “Desiderata”

  1. sarah Says:

    I think this is one of the most profound things I’ve ever read. How appropriate the timing of Lokori.

  2. hannah Says:

    though i could never put it into words like these, this is how i am striving to think these days. to find happiness and beauty in all things even those not so good. thank you for sharing toby.

  3. toby Says:

    When the day was done in Lokori, I would sit in a chair, and take the poster off the wall. I would sometimes lay it on my knees and stare at it for minutes on end. I’m sure Kamunyu and Ndiba thought I was crazy.

  4. jmac Says:

    toby, i’m sorry we can’t hang out anymore. you are extremely loud and aggressive.

    thanks man, i needed to read this today.

  5. toby Says:

    If you want an idea of where Lokori is, you could put this:

    1.950880 n, 36.028960 e

    into the “fly to” bar of google earth.

  6. TYOTD Says:

    i read this a my sister’s wedding. i’m having a hard time thinking of anyone greater than me. weird.

  7. TYOTD Says:

    i meant “at” my sister’s wedding. shit. left myself wide open for a smart-ass comment from mike. lay it on me, pal…

  8. mike Says:

    nah. my work here is done.

  9. beth Says:

    i love this. i smiled at the “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” and yes, it is still a beautiful world. thanks for sharing.

  10. gail Says:

    this is beautiful.

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