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Desiderata and The Teacher




I was 15. A great deal had already occurred in my life. If you asked my father he would tell you that I wasn't 15, that I had never been 15. He would tell you that I grew up too fast and learned too much at a young age. But I can assure you. I was 15 and I had A LOT to learn.

I sat in my music teachers classroom and fidgeted and yawned as I always did. I had this woman for Chorus too. She kicked me out. I was fidgety and distracted in that class as well. I had since learned to keep my mouth shut although my 8th grade English teacher Ms. Koster said "AnnMarie cannot keep her mouth shut for one minute". I actually could. I just didn't want to give her a chance to speak and bore me to tears. She might say something intelligent but I wasn't optimistic.

Mrs. Hochman, my music teacher was babbling on and on this bright sunny Spring day when I turned to my left and started reading a poster on the wall. Reading anything at all on the wall was an improvement to having to listen to Mrs. Hochman. It said "Desiderata" and I wondered if it indeed sounded the way I was pronouncing it. Sounding it out slowly over and over again. Pretty name, I thought. Then I continued...

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence..."

Oh, Mrs. Koster would have loved that line! "placidly" what did that mean, calmy? I would look that up when I got home.

"As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons" Nice. Good rule.

I found a lot of good rules in Desiderata and made a mental note to come in with my notebook and start writing it all down. I would copy Desiderate so I wouldn't lose it. So I could memorize all those beautiful words to live by. But I had to hurry, I only had 5 more days of school left.

It wasn't easy copying all those words with old Hochman always looking in my direction. I was in the second to last row, last seat, although there were about 3 more desks behind me. The class was small, only 12 kids. She could easily watch all of us.

The third day I forgot my notebook. This put me in a bad mood and I refused to answer any questions Hochman asked and told her flat out to leave me alone I was in a bad mood. She was not pleased. I worried that I would not have time to copy all of Desiderata down. I only had 2 days left and this was a long poem!!

But what wonderful beautiful words to live by. Simple rules. These made sense. It said it was found in St. Paul's church sometime in the 1600's. I would later find this to be false. It was actually written by a man named Max Ehrman. It was supposedly for a Christmas card although I have never seen a card that could clearly, legibly hold all those words.

By the 5th day I only had the final paragraph. I rushed to music class to get a jump on my project and maybe get it done before Hochman arrived. I took my seat, opened my notebook and excitedly perched my pen over my page. I looked up to the right and saw a huge space where "Desiderata" had been. I just sat there, my mouth hanging open in shock. I stared at this space for a good minute before coming out of it. Where did it go? Who took it? I barely noticed Mrs. Hochman's arrival as I sat bewildered and disappointed throughout class. What did I do now? I was missing lines, important lines to be sure. Where would I find them?

The bell rang and I walked slowly passed Mrs. Hochman. "AnnMarie" she said "Can I see you a minute?"

Oh crap. Now what did I do? I never made a sound all day, what was she going to tell me, she had to fail me or something?

"Yes Mrs. Hochman" I dragged myself over to where she stood in front of the blackboard and next to her desk. Her disheveled mass of reddish hair in need of brushing. Her stomach sticking out bringing up the front of her dress. This lady was always a mess. She wore no make up but she seemed to enjoy smiling quite a bit.

"AnnMarie, can you play an instrument?"

"No, I can't"

"Why don't you play?"

"I wanted to play the flute, but my dad said we couldn't afford it".

"Well you could have played that in school, in band. They give you a flute"

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"And it costs $25" I interrupted.

She understood "I see, did you ever think about the piano?"

"My fingers are too short"

"Don't be silly, come here" We sat at the piano and she taught me the beginning of "Color my World" by Chicago because it is pretty easy. I liked being able to do it though and it made me smile.

"You are a very intelligent girl AnnMarie" she said it almost lovingly. "I believe you could do anything if you set your mind to it."

For some reason, I believed her. Then she handed me a rolled up poster. "I think this is yours" she said.

I peered inside and could see it was my "Desiderata".

I just looked up at her from the piano bench. "I don't understand"

"I saw you staring at that wall for days and then writing furiously, I thought it must have meant a lot to you to want to write it all down, so I took it down for you to take home. I knew you would appreciate it".

I could have cried, but I was way too tough to do that in front of Mrs. Hochman. She must have read it too, no, she read it and she understood it. I just read it. I thought they were excellent words to live by, but I wasn't even doing that. I needed to study it and learn it and truly live it if it meant to me what I thought it did. I smiled and thanked Mrs. Hochman again and again.

Over the years I have thought about her and wondered if she had any idea what that small gesture had meant to me. How one day I would grow to love her for it and for the wonderful teacher that she was. Perhaps Desiderata would not have become one of my mantra's for life, had Mrs. Hochman not demonstrated how I was supposed to use it.

And I do. Particularly the last several words that spoke to me the loudest through Mrs. Hochman's always smiling, cheery demeanor and trying to make US happy through her teaching. Thank you Mrs. Hochman, where ever you are. (oh and Mrs. H., I play the flute now too).


Go Placidly amid the noise and hast 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 withothers you may become vain and 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, howeverhumble, 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 thegrass.

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 areborn of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child ofthe 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 labor and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

With all it’s sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


John on August 28, 2015:

I don't know if this will reach you or not, but I wanted to thank you for posting this story. Although it was 5 years ago, it is still reaching out to people.

I first heard Desiderata as a teen back in the 70's. I'm 57 yrs old now, and STILL carry a copy of it in my wallet. I STILL have my old "felt" poster I bought back then and had with me for many years, even traveled around the world with me when I was in the military. Desiderata became my "Bible" so to speak and the more I read/studied the words, the deeper my faith in myself and mankind got. I couldn't imagine going through some tough challenges of life without it.

The clincher with your story is how Color my World fits in. As a Chicago fan back then (and still today!) I remember hearing a rendition of Color my World with the words to Desiderata being spoken during the musical introduction to the song. MAGIC! No one I know remembers that, and I haven't heard any body connect the two in any way since then. Just hearing your story connect these two brought such a sense of peace in me, I really don't know how to put it in words.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is STILL a beautiful world!

Moonchild60 (author) on June 24, 2010:

norvina - Thank you!! : )

norvina ejoc on June 24, 2010:

nice !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

divij from Bangalore on January 07, 2010:

very useful information. nice hub, keep it. may i know how is ur earnings in hubpages, i am new to hubpages, could u plz give me any suggessions?

Moonchild60 (author) on December 24, 2009:

You're welcome logic. Thank YOU for coming by and for commenting. It is rejuvenating because it reminds us once again. Sometimes life plays with our memory and the most important things get forgotten...A happy and Healthy New Year to you!!

logic,commonsense on December 24, 2009:

I found this several years ago and it helped reinforce things I had already knew or felt.

Thanks for bringing it up again! It is rejuvenating!

Moonchild60 (author) on December 23, 2009:

Kaie - You are absolutely right! Thank you for coming by. I think I will try to find Mrs. H. Although I doubt she is still alive, but you never know...

Kaie Arwen on December 23, 2009:

If you ever find the chance to find Mrs .Hochman, and to tell her what she meant to you; you should do it. There is nothing more important to a real teacher than knowing he/she has made a difference. For those who truly love their jobs, that would be the prize at the end of everyday. One moment, one child, and the knowledge that what we do does make a difference.

You were lucky to have her.

Moonchild60 (author) on November 27, 2009:

Loua - My whole purpose of writing has always been to illicit an emotional response. To make people think or feel something. It's nice to know that I am accomplishing that from time to time. Thank you my friend for letting me know.

loua from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet on November 25, 2009:

This is a timeless tale that is full of emotional impact, its a great story... Its now on my desktop where it is handy for review...

Thank You Dear Lady...

Moonchild60 (author) on November 02, 2009:

Oh my sweet Ralwus (Charlie) - I love how you always make me smile!!

ralwus on November 01, 2009:

Well, here I am. As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied. I bet you are satisfied. Smiling yet? You look like a teen yet. Feeling good yet? hehe Oh how I'd like to stroke your hair just once with my pinky and touch yer nose. Good night now and I will pay you a lil more attention to make you feel good. You are a poem, no a song.

Moonchild60 (author) on November 01, 2009:

Thank you mamajal, I agree with you, it should be read by teenagers today, they need some deeper message than the superficial artificial ones they get from TV, movies, and Music.

Mamajal from England on November 01, 2009:

I first learnt of Desiderata at a friends fathers funeral about 6 years ago. She read it at the funeral as it had been on their dining room wall when she was young. Her father was a meek and mild mannered man, very considerate and supportive. It was hearing this poem that led me to understand the man it was being read for. I too now hold these words as a personal mantra especially the line 'avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the soul'

It should be taught in schools now as we really need to give the teenagers of today an ideal to strive for, no matter what God you pray to.

Thanks for this hub.x

Moonchild60 (author) on October 23, 2009:

Ralwus - I love when you come visit... it makes me feel so good!!! Thank you so much for coming by and for your wonderful compliments, it is always a joy to see you...

Jess - i wish I could be inspired like that. Just once. thank you for coming by and the part of Desiderata you quoted is my favorite.

Jess Killmenow from Nowheresville, Eastern United States on October 23, 2009:

Very heartwarming story. Ehman must have been very inspired when he wrote Desiderata.

"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."

ralwus on October 23, 2009:

I'm in love with you all over again! You are a beautiful writer. How are you darlin'? it is aways a pleasure to see you whenever, where ever, Your hubby is one lucky man.

'Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.' this I think was the hardest for me, but I did achieve it finally. Thanks now and peace and love.

Moonchild60 (author) on October 23, 2009:

I still look like a teen??? Oh honey, I am gonna love you forever for that one. Loved it...Loved the video. Thank you so much for coming to see me!!

Moonchild60 (author) on September 26, 2009:

Hi Disturbia - Thank you very much for coming by. I agree with you completely. Whatever you conceive him to be should be the clincher. There is no reason why that should be an issue for anyone.

Disturbia on September 25, 2009:

Moonchild, I have always loved this poem. Thank you for your story and for posting it in your hub.

JoyLyn, it's sad that it can no longer be in schools because of the word God. When did God become a dirty word? What I don't understand is why it should be banned. It says "Therefore be at peace with God, WHATEVER YOU CONCEIVE HIM TO BE." Maybe I'm just stupid, but I would think that "WHATEVER YOU CONCEIVE HIM TO BE" would apply to everybody and all creeds. The word God is symbolic of an inner spiritual peace and doesn't favor any one belief system over another. Who could be offended by this? Oh well, as much as I don't agree with it, I understand that the current thinking bans God from public places.

Moonchild60 (author) on September 24, 2009:

Thank you so much for coming by Shalini, it is nice to meet you!! And Thank you for your nice comments.

Shalini Kagal from India on September 23, 2009:

Hi moonchild - I first heard about it and read it when I went to St. Paul's in Baltimore. What a great piece of writing. And you've told the story of the magic it worked in your life so wonderfully well!

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on September 21, 2009:

This is a very nicely written hub. I remember when Desiderata first appeared, with the pretense surrounding its origin. (Not very convincing though, as much of the wording is clearly contemporary). My brother had a copy pinned to the wall for many years.

Moonchild60 (author) on September 21, 2009:

brownlickie - You are very welcome!

brownlickie on September 21, 2009:

thanks for a great hub regards brownlickie

Moonchild60 (author) on September 21, 2009:

Thank you JoyLyn - for dropping by and for your comment. It is unfortuante that everyone gets so offended. Now a lot of kids miss out on the chance that I was fortunate enough to have had.

JoyLyn71 on September 21, 2009:

I love this, every classroom should have this. It is inspirational. Unfortunately it can no longer be there because of the word GOD.

"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." Every teenager should read this part.

I am glad you posted Desiderata in your hub...words to live by.

Moonchild60 (author) on September 13, 2009:

Thank you RebekahElle. Mrs. H. was special and I am glad that I did learn that, eventually. What a wonderful thing for you, you got to learn those beautiful words to live by AND piano!! Thank you so much for stopping by.

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on September 13, 2009:

how very nice to see this here! I loved reading your story.

I had this poem on a black light poster in my bedroom for years, it was over my piano (yes, I had a piano in my bedroom because my parents wanted me to learn music to keep me out of trouble.) I would sit there and practice and practice and look up and see those timeless words which I have made a way of life. your teacher was observant and tuned in to her students~~ beautiful!

Moonchild60 (author) on September 12, 2009:

Thank you James. I will never understand the lack of importance we put on teaching and our teachers. They truly do help mold and shape our youth.

James A Watkins from Chicago on September 12, 2009:

It is amazing what a difference one teacher can make in a child's life. I was fortunate to have two such teachers, both men, in the 6th grade and then as a junior in high school (philosophy) who were affirming and encouraging—as well as great instructors who could make any subject come alive. I enjoyed you fine piece here. Thanks!

Gracefully surrendering the things of youth. That is quite a line, missy. :)

Moonchild60 (author) on September 11, 2009:

Paul - Thank you so much!! Comments like yours only encourage me to do it again and again. You have no idea how much they are appreciated.

paul_gibsons from Gibsons, BC, Canada on September 11, 2009:

another one of your gems.... wish i could tell a story like you can and touch people as much as you seem to be able to do, well me anyway,time and again...

but no worries, I wil stick to my beasts..

thanks for this!


Moonchild60 (author) on September 11, 2009:

Hi Randy - Thank YOU and You are welcome!!

Randy Behavior from Near the Ocean on September 11, 2009:

I enjoyed this immensely! Thank you.

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