Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The wisdom of toilet doors

image via flickr

I read toilet doors. I work in a university and, from campus to campus, building to building, floor to floor, the words and pictures scrawled on the back of toilet doors amuse me. At another university where I worked for several years, the toilet walls were tiled and people wrote tiny, cramped ‘grout’ jokes in between. You know the ones… ‘the grout wall of China’; ‘grout, grout, let it all grout, these are the things that we grout about, c’mon’; ‘the grout, the bad and the ugly’, etc. You get the drift. This seems to be a common phenomenon wherever tiled public bathrooms exist. Universities in general seem to have far fewer penis pictures (although they are there – and disturbingly, they’re in the ladies bathrooms too) and many more poems and ideas and quotes and arguments. I love them. My favourite, that I have carried with me for some time, is to ‘carpe the hell out of this diem’, a phrase Naomi from Not Just a Mummy reminded me of recently in her instagram feed.

Before I loved the wisdom of university toilets, I loved the wisdom on the toilet doors of my family because most of them seemed to display their copies of Max Ehrmann’s ‘Desiderata’ there. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. I try to remember always to ‘go placidly amongst the noise and haste’; to ‘speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others’; to ‘not feign affection, neither be cynical about love’; to ‘take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth’.

But the best and hardest part of ‘Desiderata’ is this:

“Beyond a wholesome discipline,
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.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”

Be gentle with yourself. Such simple advice but often the hardest to follow.

So this is my advice:
But be gentle with yourself.
In whatever form that needs to take, be gentle with yourself.


  1. Wow, reminds me of the toilet doors in my high school and college. I would actually stay longer in the cubicle just to read them and they are indeed entertaining. I love that part of Desiderata too, it reminds you that you are an important part of the universe and that you must value yourself.

  2. i love how you framed this whole post. Best advice gentle with yourself.


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