The Desiderata Reconsidered – An Irishman’s Diary on advice to live by

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in switching your phone off now and again. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. But keep surrender as an option too: sometimes it’s only the sensible move.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, especially if you have a mad Cork accent. And listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Not that you’ll always have a choice about listening: if you’re sharing a train carriage with them, you’ll hear their story anyway.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. Avoid them even more if they have hard drink taken; the spirit may in turn be vexatious to them.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater or lesser persons than yourself. Even worse, if you only knew it, some of the lesser persons are getting paid more than you.


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 (although regarding your current zero-hours contract, the Human Resources department strongly advises you to familiarise yourself with the definition of the terms “possession” and “changing fortunes of time”, as detailed in section 94 (b) ii of the company employment guidelines).

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. However plausible it may seem, it is highly unlikely that the widow of a former oil minister in a central African country really has selected your bank account as a conduit for the transfer of her $15 million life savings, 10 per cent of which will accrue to you as a mark of her gratitude.

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 (an exception to this rule applies if being yourself has in the past led to criminal convictions: in that case, becoming somebody else instead may be advisable).

Especially, do not feign affection; unless you work in the hospitality industry, in which case we refer you back to the section on career prospects.

Neither be cynical about love. For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass; although as any soil mechanic could tell you, that’s not a very sound metaphor, since grass is notoriously susceptible to aridity and in extreme cases (eg “all aridity”), will give way to desertification.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth, especially your deluded notion that there was anything good about pop music in the 1980s.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not stress yourself with dark imaginings, or instead of nurturing strength of spirit, you may take to wearing a hard hat lined with tin foil. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness, and of reading the Daily Mail too much.

Beyond a wholesome discipline – PUT THAT CAKE DOWN NOW, YOU FAT SLOB! – 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. Regardless of what Michael O'Leary thinks, this is true even if you're on a Ryanair flight that only cost a fiver.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe, like the equally mysterious Ryanair random seat allocation algorithm, is unfolding as it should. Terms and conditions apply, however. The value of your investment in the universe may go up as well as down. Past performance of its children is not a guide to future results.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him, Her, It, They, or (insert gender pronoun of choice here) to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul, unless your soul has been destroyed already by, for example, too many years of following the Mayo football team.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world; thanks in part to such cornerstones of civilisation as the Oxford comma, which featured earlier in this sentence. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

If cycling in Dublin, always cross tram tracks at an angle of at least 45 degrees.