Saturday January 3, 2004

My motto, 'tis of thee...

[ Today's question comes from ThreeWay by way of Spark (10 December 2003) ]

What would your motto would be for the place you're at in your life right now? Is it different than it would have been five years ago? 10? 20?

mot·to (n.) pl. mot·toes or mot·tos
  1. A brief statement used to express a principle, goal, or ideal. A short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle.
  2. A sentence, phrase, or word of appropriate character inscribed on or attached to an object.
  3. A maxim adopted as a guide to one's conduct.

Entry:   motto
Function:   noun
Definition:   saying
Synonyms:   adage, aphorism, apothegm, battle cry, byword, catchphrase, cry, epigram, formula, maxim, precept, proverb, rallying cry, rule, saw, sentiment, shibboleth, slogan, war cry, watchword, word
Concept:   communication entity

There are two that I think of first.

Ishin na' telleth

Penathi so mai

Both come from a series of three fantasy novels by Doris Egan — the first introduced in The Gates of Ivory; the second in Two-bit Heroes. Both are displayed prominantly on my desktop, on my whiteboard, and in my head.

Ishin na' telleth is described as "the strongest way of saying 'I'm not about to care' that it can be said". However, actual usage in the novels seems to range from the simple 'Don't make me no never mind' to the monks who "spend their days thinking and tending gardens... saying 'ishin na' telleth' to the world".

Penathi so mai , literally, "the wind we hear in the branches, that we'll never see", means "Let it go".

It was 10 years ago or more that I realized I can't care too much about what goes on around me but outside of my control, especially at work. It's a fine edge between caring enough and not caring too much. I'm still working on that. I'm still working on letting go of things I can't change (or of never taking too firm a hold in the first place).

Like Theodora, the heroine in Egan's novels, I'm not sure I can ever live up to either of these mottoes. But I keep them near me at all times, nevertheless.

Two others are also affixed to my computer desktop:

Find out what you love. Do it because you love it. Stick with it. Start now.

Ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt

The first is a quote from Barbara Sher. I first heard a variation on "Find out what you love...", phrased somewhat differently, in 1981. At that time, my then graduate advisor told me "If you don't love what you're doing, you should be doing what you love." Those words have stayed with me from that day.

The second, from the Latin (attributed to Seneca), translates as "The Fates guide those who go willingly; those who do not, they drag." This showed up in my Inbox within the last year, yet I think it's timeless (and fits in well with the rest).

Then there's one I've had on my desk since 1983.

Ooit'n Normaal Mens Ontmoet? En..., Beviel't?

Translated into English from the original Dutch, this means:

Ever met a normal person? So..., did you like it?

This question is on a small plaque, front and center on my desk at home. If I commute to a job, I have a second small plaque to take with me. The phrase first showed up on a poster many years ago and I was introduced to it when I met my spouse (who found it sometime in the mid-seventies). I've adopted it for my own; I even have it imprinted on my checks :-)

Postscript 2013 And finally, one more that I use in my "other weblog"

Better to write for yourself and have no public,
than to write for the public and have no self.

This quote from Cyril Connolly describes why have a weblog, why I tweet, ... indeed, why I write anything.

My motto, 'tis of thee... ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Sat, 03 Jan, 17:53 Pacific | «e»