Contestants were asked to respond to the timeless message of Max Ehrmann’s 1927 poetic prose essay. Their winning entries follow the video.
A child at peace, a child at one (Lorraine Hyde) | Guidance for Life (Dana Evans) | Recommendations for a Life Well Lived (Dave Douglas) | Advice for Living (Josh Daniel) | Desire’s Duty for Me (Joy A. Burki-Watson) | The Necklace (Deborah F. Thomas) | …like that (Grant Nelson
A child at peace, a child at one
A life of noise and senseless asks
blinded by each daunting task.
Attracting those who prod and poke,
who bite and scratch as spiteful folk.
How do you jump through spinning hoops
while feet are bound, and body droops
to fall through cracks where none shall see,
clinging, holding, desperately.
This solitude no friend of mine,
yet there I stayed all of the time.
Then silence spoke so tenderly
through echoes of pure harmony.
An inner peace began to form
where disenchantment was the norm.
And there a seed of love was sown,
and doubt and hate, were overthrown.
For when I closed my eyes that night,
I drifted long till out of sight
above the trees and way beyond
as senses heightened to respond.
So dense and dark and so intense,
the Universe would soon make sense
and as the Earth came into view,
serenity would fill me through.
For every dream I had that failed,
for every blow endured and nailed.
For every voice and noise that shook,
for every shock that overtook.
For all I lost and once desired,
I set you free, your time expired.
Embracing what I have become
a child at peace, a child at one.
© 2021 Lorraine Hyde
Guidance for Life
The noise of this big world can overwhelm,
so try to keep sound judgement at the helm.
Though interference tries, it cannot win
if you can find a lasting peace within.
Speak truth when even all around you lie,
then you will never need an alibi.
And listen to each voice, and heed it well
for everybody has a tale to tell.
Do not compare yourself to other folks,
Remember every life has different strokes.
Try hard to not be bitter, mean, or vain.
Through kindness, there is so much more to gain.
Be cautious of the tricksters that you meet.
They’re mostly just concerned with your defeat.
A hero lives in everyone, you see.
Your virtue lies in your integrity.
You’ve got to be yourself, not matter what;
and always pay attention to your gut.
Your intuition helps keep you secure,
and you will trust it more as you mature.
Don’t ever lie to those you love in life
for this big world’s already pretty rife
with fictions all too many folks believe
when truth is all too easy to achieve.
Ensure you pay attention to the old.
The knowledge they pass down is purest gold,
and never let your worries or your fears
submerge you underneath a lake of tears.
Although there’s lots of evil in the world,
still many deeds of kindness are unfurled.
And you can use compassion for rebirth
of empathy and caring on the earth.
The most important thing, your highest goal,
is to be gentle with your mortal soul.
You are a child of nature, know that you
are just as vital as the sky is blue.
© 2021 Dana Evans
Recommendations for a Life Well Lived
When noise in this wide world won’t ever cease,
you must stay calm and find your inner peace.
You mustn’t cede to wishes of the crowd,
for they are not as right as they are loud.
To always speak the truth’s a vital trait,
as lies just serve to clutter up your plate.
Don’t let your vanity inflate your head.
Let modesty control your deeds instead.
Attend your work affairs, and do your best.
You never know when life’s another test.
Greet every fear and hurdle with a grin.
There lies a paladin beneath your skin.
Be true to self, no matter what the case.
For fate has ways of putting things in place
to turn your disillusion into trust
and crumble worries of the mind to dust.
Do not discard the counsel of the old.
Pay close attention to the stories told,
for they are wise in actions and in years.
So many truths lie underneath their tears.
But most of all, you must take care of you.
Though fate and fortune often go askew,
the universe has ways to make things right.
Have faith, and you will make it through the night.
You are a child of nature, don’t forget
that life is wasted while you fuss and fret.
There’s beauty in the world, and you can be
a part of it for everyone to see.
© 2021 Dave Douglas
Advice for Living
Find peace in the noise and the haste.
Repose is too precious to waste.
Treat folks with compassion.
(It’s always in fashion.)
Speak truth, as it always is chaste.
Avoid the aggressive and loud.
Don’t liken yourself to the crowd.
To dig in your heels
for higher ideals
is something for which to be proud.
Affection should never be feigned.
Hypocrisy leaves you blood-stained.
If you’re a fault finder,
you’ll need a reminder
there’s nothing in it to be gained.
Take in the advice of old age.
Their counsel is vital and sage,
and nurture your soul.
Make kindness your goal,
and smile at the folks you engage.
Do not concentrate on your woes.
Prioritize highs, and not lows.
Be gentle with self.
Place fear on a shelf.
When you’re optimistic, it shows.
Remember the creature you are,
no less than a tree or a star.
Be sure and be strong.
Know that you belong.
Don’t ever stop raising the bar.
Though living can be bittersweet,
and Fate is a bit of a cheat;
the cosmos’ plans
remain in good hands.
It always lands right on its feet.
© 2021 Josh Daniel
Desire’s Duty for Me
Each day, I wake, to winds of change,
some fair and some extreme—
I also know it’s up to me
to manage self-esteem.
There is no doubt that peace exists
where silence seeks sure space;
And strength of spirit, waits within,
when e’er I seek His Grace.
Each night I chose to welcome in
a sense of soulful calm;
My silent prayers find a way
to praise, as if, in psalm.
I breathe the joy of beingness
and dream ‘til morning’s light;
When once again I face each change
by nourishing delight.
There’s wisdom found in truthful trust
and all that’s absolute;
While selflessness releases fear
and has no substitute—
With that in mind, I’ll gently share
what e’er that time attunes;
Each day my gift for kindliness
each night— insight, that blooms.
© 2021 Joy A. Burki-Watson
There is no joy in solitude
if one adopts an attitude
to disavow the universe
and fail to see, her needs come first
For all are children of this earth
She gave us life – no greater worth
and stars that glean up in the night
are there to guide us on our flight
Each and every one of us
born of flesh will turn to dust
and though the valleys sink way low
and rivers ebb before they flow
Birds sometimes forget to fly
but mountains climbed are worth the try
Perfection is a tootsie roll
How many licks til we are whole
Let peace become your one true love
Forgiveness, we need lots more of
Judge not others for who they are
Don’t slam the door; leave it ajar
Your voice may shout opposing views
but have you walked in others’ shoes
God gives you feet to stand upon
It’s your choice to walk or run
A beaded necklace, one by one
threaded on a string til done
becomes an act of unity
a circle of infinity
© 2021 Deborah F. Thomas
Dreams are like that
When time has turned against you
and hope is just a word
that grows from ancient ruins
of stories told and heard
When nothing seems worth trying
because each day you’ve tried
amounts to empty pockets
and holes within your pride
When days of endless planning
become a frantic rush
to find a way to sell
to those who aren’t in touch
Then you know every secret
to find the cause of plans
that fall like dying embers
– sparks fading as they dance
Visions float like lifetimes;
they bud with innocence,
then grow like molten courage
as we mount our defence
As years of disappointment
attempt to grind us down
those seeds that grew in childhood
lie dormant underground
Perhaps they’ll die and wither
as winter closes in
Some seeds survive and glimmer
Hope floating in the wind
© 2021 Grant Nelson