Even though February is a short month on the calendar, it seems quite long at times. This is one of those times- with Covid still a concern, winter storms in much of the country, and spring still weeks away. So it seems like a good week to share some of my favorite sayings, in no particular order. I hope you find them helpful, and entertaining.
- All Hat, No Cattle– I don’t know where I first heard this, but I am guessing it originated in Texas. It says a lot in a few words, and reminds people not to get too caught up in their own self importance. And you certainly don’t want to put on false airs. If you’ve got the cattle, everyone will figure that out. So skip the fake hat.
- The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things– this usually becomes apparent as you grow older, but I think Covid has brought it to the forefront for everyone this past year. In my younger days, especially when I got out of law school, I was a pretty good consumer since I had been in college forever with very little discretionary income. But as I got older it started to sink in that our relatives won’t be with us forever, and that children grow up in a hurry. I think we will all be happy when we can get back to seeing our families and friends like we did before the virus, and that those gatherings will be even more meaningful.
- I’d Agree With You, But Then We’d Both Be Wrong- isn’t this a catchy way to say you think you’re right? A co-worker had this printed on a plaque in her office, and it really is a great thing to have at work. I also tend to think I’m right, a lot. Actually almost all the time. So I adopted this mantra to occasionally use when someone doesn’t quite appreciate my eternal rightness. It also makes people smile.
- I’m Sorry, But Your Lack of Planning Will Not Become My Emergency– another spiffy quote from work. I think it was posted in the copy center at one time. I have to admit that I never said this out loud at work because it really is pretty rude. But I thought it many, many times because I rarely put anything off until the last minute. It is usually better to say that you are swamped and won’t be able to help until your workload lightens. Unless the person who asks you to do something because they didn’t plan ahead is your boss. But for everyone else, this is really a handy thing to keep in mind.
- It’s Their Journey-hands down, the best parenting advice ever. One of my wise friends shared this with a group of moms when we were out to lunch several years ago. It encapsulates so much. When your children are born, I think there is a tendency to envision they will do lots of things that you did, the same way you did them. It is always good to remember that your kids will walk some of the same paths, but their way of doing it will vary. This phrase can be used for minor issues ( you’re a senior now, better declare a major) to more serious ones (moving to California to do stand up comedy is a bit risky, but good luck!). No matter what comes up, this reminds you to be supportive and keep things in perspective. And you can always solicit advice from your mom friends next time you see them.
And since everything in the world of sayings isn’t helpful, I offer three that I place in the less than helpful category:
- What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger- good grief. No, just plain no, on several levels. First, if you almost died from it, that must have been a pretty serious thing. If you got in an accident and had to do a lot of rehab work, you may not get back to the same level you were at, no matter how hard you work. And it completely discounts the trauma you suffered. Like saying the accident was bad and the recovery was gruesome, but hey, here you are so all is well. Really not useful at all.
- When One Door Closes, Another Opens- this is the first cousin of number 1. Technically, it is true since when you need to leave a room when the door is closed, you will need to open it to exit. But this also discounts what happened when the door closed- a lost job, relationship, or other opportunity. If someone has a loss like this, that deserves to be acknowledged as a difficult thing. And the next job or relationship might take awhile to develop. People need time to reflect and be heard, not just be told to go searching for open doors. They might not be found for awhile, and that’s really ok.
- Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow-I have no idea where this originated, but it has some flaws. I like to read, play golf and take naps. So far, I haven’t found a job that will pay me to do any of these things. If the idea is that you should explore your interests and passions as you consider a career, then I am all for that approach. Sometimes you will find a career that is a perfect fit in that regard. But you might find a career that you are good at but it’s not your passion. I once worked with a colleague who was very good at teaching math but would admit he didn’t really like the subject that much- he just happened to be good at it. And he made decent money teaching it, and had a flexible schedule. This allowed him to focus on some hobbies that he loved when he wasn’t working. There are lots of ways to do things that you love, but they may not produce any income or enough to live on.
Since we are approaching Lent, I thought I would close with a funny story about it. As you probably know, it is the observance of the weeks before Easter that Catholics and some other faith traditions start this week on Ash Wednesday. For Catholics, it is also supposed to include not eating meat on Fridays ( usually producing some fine fish fry fundraisers in my part of the world, but alas not this year due to Covid), and some sort of sacrifice, i.e. “giving something up”. This can range from chocolate, to beer, to whatever you find appropriate. During law school, one of my friends and I spent a lot of time in the snack area, sitting in a particular booth, talking about anything that we found interesting. One year for Lent, I decided to give up complaining. Most of my complaints were about school, and that wasn’t all we talked about, so how hard could it be? Well, very hard. About two days into it, I realized that I must have been complaining all the time because I was practically mute. It was struggle to carry on a conversation, and I really missed our chats. So I changed course, and went back to the old stand by from my youth, chocolate. Much easier! Our long chats were restored, and we were so well known for sitting in the same spot that one of our classmates put up a plaque naming the booth in our honor. The booth is long gone, but the memories live on, and I have no complaints about being remembered as one of only two students who had a piece of furniture dedicated to them at the University of Nebraska College of Law.