Friday, January 4, 2013


In middle school I used to roll my scooter through the American Embassy School campus in New Delhi at night. There was a big garden with a winding ramp and I'd go whooshing down from my mom's classroom back to our apartment at night. I decided that Orion's belt was my favorite constellation, even though it was the only one I could make out in the smoggy sky.

Sometimes I stopped by the sundial to read the poem on the side. It was only about three and a half feet tall. It was this:

To laugh often and much; 

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; 

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; 

To appreciate beauty; 

To find the best in others; 

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; 

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; 

This is to have succeeded. 

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was 13 at the time. I liked the part about winning the affection of children, and making one life breathe easier. I wondered what that entailed.