This Zen Comic Is Full of Timeless Life Lessons
Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann beautifully illustrated by Gavin Aung Than
By Gavin Aung Than / zenpencils.com

Desiderata (Latin for ‘things to be desired’) is a famous poem with a complicated history. Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), a lawyer and poet from Indiana, wrote the poem sometime in the 1920s and distributed it locally, although it never received any widespread attention. However in the 1950s, the Reverend of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore printed the poem in a collection of devotional pieces for his congregation with a notation stating “Old St. Pauls Church, Baltimore A.C. 1692.”

As the booklet got distributed more and more over the years, it led to people believing the poem originated with the church and was hundreds of years old, despite the modern style of writing. The wrong credit gained more credibility after the death of American politician Adlai Stevenson in 1965. A copy of Desiderata was found on his bedside table, putting the poem in the spotlight again, but of course it had the incorrect St. Paul’s attribution. It went on to be hugely popular in the late 60s and early 70s among the counter-culture generation. So if you see the poem around with the wrong credit, make sure to give props to Max Ehrmann.

I adapted Desiderata as a result of a contest my book publisher, Andrews McMeel, held at the recent Book Expo of America. Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite poem out of three choices, with the winner being adapted into a Zen Pencils comic. I submitted three of the most-requested poems I get sent to me: Desiderata, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep. I hadn’t got around to adapting any of them because I had put them in the “too hard” basket. The contest forced me to figure one of them out at least, and I’m glad I finally did. Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to all of you who’ve sent me this poem.

4.1 ·
17
What's Next
Trending Today
Betraying Progressives, DNC Platform Backs Fracking, TPP, and Israel Occupation
Lauren McCauley · 33,860 views today · Appointees by Clinton and Wasserman Schulz resoundingly reject numerous proposals put forth by Sanders surrogates
The Left Should Celebrate Brexit: The UK Just Kicked Neoliberalism in the Nuts
Matt Ellis · 12,134 views today · It is a sad and ironic indictment on the state of the global Left and the progressive agenda, that the very compelling reasons to support a Brexit have been lost amongst the...
If You Want to Say Thank You, Don't Say Sorry - And 6 Other Examples of Beautiful Communication
Yao Xiao · 7,809 views today · Appreciate others for what they have done, don't apologise for simply existing.
Yes Men Just Brilliantly Pranked The NRA
2 min · 5,067 views today · "You know how important it is to protect your family. But you may not know that some of America’s poorest citizens cannot afford to arm themselves against those who would limit...
Post-Brexit, The Far Right Could Easily Ascend to Power, But There's One Way We Can Prevent That
Chris Hedges · 4,964 views today · Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has wiped out many bankers and global speculators. They will turn, as they did in 2008, to governments to rescue them from...
Capitalism Is Just a Story - Rise Up and Create a New One
6 min · 4,934 views today · How many of us have a sneaking suspicion that something pretty fundamental is going wrong in the world? We keep hearing about the potentially devastating consequences of...
The Four Mantras of True Presence
Thich Nhat Hanh · 4,756 views today · These simple mantras can help us overcome suffering
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 3,675 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Post-Brexit: It's Time to Imagine a New European Community
Martin Winiecki · 3,538 views today · We live in the beginning phase of a global revolution which will turn societal conditions upside down. We cannot stop this transformation, but we can influence where it will...
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 3,425 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Gabor Mate on the Myth of Normal
4 min · 2,662 views today · Physician Dr. Gabor Mate began his interview by addressing the 'myth of normal' that divides us into the normal and the abnormal with pathological traits. Dr. Mate mentions...
What Happens When Fear Wins
Andrew Butler · 2,275 views today · A dystopian warning from the future
Traditional Gender Norms Are Imprisoning All of Us - It's Time to Break Free!
Tim Hjersted · 2,267 views today · The world needs all of us to become healers. It needs us to nurture the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine that lies dormant to various degrees within each and every one...
Spin: Footage You Were Never Supposed to See (1995)
57 min · 2,058 views today · Artist Brian Springer spent a year scouring the airwaves with a satellite dish grabbing back channel news feeds not intended for public consumption. The result of his research...
Realize You Are the Earth
Thich Nhat Hanh · 2,009 views today · “We need a real awakening, enlightenment, to change our way of thinking and seeing things. To breathe in and be aware of your body and look deeply into it, realise you are the...
L.A. Voting Official Opens Door for Approximately 580,000 More Independent Californians’ Votes to Be Counted
Liam Miller · 1,889 views today · Almost 600,000 previously disenfranchised independent voters in California may have their votes counted, after all.
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 1,864 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Halle/Chomsky: an Eight Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting)
John Halle and Noam Chomsky · 1,841 views today · Among the elements of the weak form of democracy enshrined in the constitution, presidential elections continue to pose a dilemma for the left in that any form of participation...
What Humanity Needs to Realize to Live Forever with the Earth
4 min · 1,586 views today · In the end, the lesson our culture needs to learn is simple. But before any meaningful change can happen in our world, we need to learn that lesson.
Dumbing Us Down: The 7 Hidden Lessons of Compulsory Education
Meryn Callander · 1,534 views today · While teaching means different things in different places, seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood Hills.
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
This Zen Comic Is Full of Timeless Life Lessons