This study/treatment of this old poem operates under the premise, that there's no need to "reinvent the wheel.." In other words, I can relate and express myself "originally," upon something that already exists.
So to begin:
"Go placidly amid the noise & haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence."
To begin with placidly is defined as: "not easily upset or excited."
So then the suggestion is that in the presence of "noise & haste" - I maintain an air of composure. Certainly as an urban dweller, I can vouch for the incidence of both noise and haste. Particularly now with (as noted in the media) "unprecedented volumes of construction is occurring" - roads and residential/commercial. Many are in a great hurry, to go - (God knows where) so much so, they are willing to place themselves and others in jeopardy.
Just today, I popped out (on my motorcycle) to do a couple errands. I was on my way home when while in traffic, and waiting to make a turn; I could see, that though I was proceeding to turn into the closest most available lane ... the vehicle turning through the intersection from the other side was not intending to do so. I yielded (my "right of way") the women driving the car making the turn waved and appeared pleased with both her getting one car length of additional asphalt and her perception of the courtesy extended by me. The point is I didn't "give" her anything... in the interest of staying alive I didn't insist on my right-of-way as to do so would have got me creamed while she executed her illegal turn and cut me off. Of course there are times when I offer courtesy on the road - I'm not however interested in having my epitaph read: "I had the right-a-way!!"
So what I'm saying is I can contribute to the noise and haste (which admittedly I most certainly have done) and continue on occasion to do - though I do make a concerted effort to preserve my inner peace or I can choose differently.
I most definitely "remember" the peace available - in the silence. Although on some occasions, it would be have I have obliterated it with considerable inner (and at times, outer) racket. There are countless examples in my life whereby I have tasted the sweet peace in the silence - but not far from the "cushion" where it was attained I go about creating an uproar. Naturally, I've often rationalized said ruckus, with a heaping helping of righteous indignation. All I've ever managed to attain thus, is an explanation for why I'm feeling so agitated and irate - in other words the righteousness did nothing to bring about any peace - it just gave me an excuse for my foul disposition. And as I consider it now, most often (if not always) just compounded my dour mood.
As far as I can determine - the noise and the haste, are not going away anytime soon. All I can do, (drawing from the wisdom of another old standard) - "Accept the things I can't change" & have the wisdom to know, the only one I can change, is myself. In the above mentioned traffic scenario, there was no "incident," because I chose to deal with the situation proactively. I haven't been back on a motorcycle a very long again - but I definitely adapted a certain vigilance, from when I frequently rode my bicycle. In some ways the two modes of transportation, have some parallels. One need assume complete, responsibility for their well-being on the road. The truth is, you as a cyclist or motorcyclist, are largely invisible, in the consciousness of many drivers (that is until you're being picked out of the grill of their car) - so I never assume, I'm being seen. Also due to a skewed sense of entitlement, far too many drivers, believe they have more right to the road, than you do, and they will take it. Whether this is derived from plain ignorance or lack of attention, in the intersection, is no place to have such philosophical debates.
I'd maintain that a general practice of stress reduction and attention to well-being better prepare one to weather the onslaught of noise and haste. I can leave early - so that I'm not "running late" and contributing to that haste. If I'm inevitably going to be late, then I can try and call ahead and take the pressure off myself and just arrive when I get there.
Another key element for me is to deal with the feelings that are triggered when a situation arises while navigating through the world of noise and haste. I certainly feel gratitude when I am guided to successfully avoid a traffic altercation. But I also feel the surge of adrenaline, a mixture of fear and anger. It's up to me then to determine, do I need a "time out.." in the motorcycle scenario, to continue in traffic, afterwards, if I'm still agitated etc. doesn't hold me in good stead for further negotiating upon the road. The same would be true with personal interactions. I need to find a way to get back to my centre and place of calm.
"Road rage" does not make any form of positive contribution to the world. Neither though is it practical to commence meditation in the middle of downtown traffic. It is possible, to employ some relaxing breaths, at the next light or if need be, pull over somewhere & just chill.
It is indeed a gift to avail myself to the peace in the silence - it is also a very powerful awareness for me to realize that the loudest voice breaking the silence, is my own.