My Quotations file is where I jot down interesting sayings that are worth saving and pondering on. It’s getting to be about 30 pages long, and is a real hodge-podge of wisdom gleaned from a wide variety of sources.
We also have our own family platitudes accumulated over a decades-long marriage of partnering and parenting. Along with these are those inherited from our own parents, or from astute co-workers. Here is a sample of some of them, in no particular order:
“If you ask for trouble, it will come!” Wise Mom prediction, based on experience
“It’s all fun now, until someone gets hurt!” To kids scuffling in a play-fight
“No, fanks.” Toddler grand-daughter learning etiquette
“Be careful of the company you keep.” When oatmeal cookies stored along with bran muffins in a container turned to mush.
“Home again, home again! Jiggety-jog!” Said with relief to a carload of kids when turning into our driveway after a long road trip
“I have no useful opinion.” From Ellen, HR manager in my workplace
“No good deed goes unpunished.” To anyone disappointed by consequences after showing kindness
“Look on the bright side.” After cataract surgery, when the view from one eye was much brighter than the other
“This, too, shall pass.” Maternal axiom shared by co-worker at McMaster
“We spent a week there one afternoon.” From co-worker who accompanied partner on a difficult family visit
“Everything was just slightly off.” From elderly gentleman, commenting on the journalistic accuracy of his newspaper interview
“It’s not black and white.” Referring to epic early courtship argument about whether black and white were colours
“Tomorrow is promised to no one.” From the lawyer preparing our will
“But I wanna be first!” Oldest to the second child when she had run so fast in a circle around the kitchen and living room that she was actually now behind the second.
“Dat is jammer (pronounced ‘yummer’).” Jammer being a word I heard so often while accompanying my parents on a trip to Holland, that I finally had to ask what it meant. Apparently a lot of things are just unfortunate
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” From my father, who generally was in such a big rush that he took risky shortcuts
“I guess the world will just have to get along without it!” From my friend Siska, after I’d forgotten something profound I wanted to say
“Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” Advice on when to leave a college party from a roommate’s parent
“How come Holland is so small on this map?” Overheard on a school’s visiting grandparent day, addressed to student who was a grandchild of Dutch immigrants. Helpful when needing perspective
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” An attitude of perseverance (and stubbornness) that will not stay down, will not give up. Very effective when lived out by example
Learning is lifelong, and these adages are borne out of shared experiences over many years. They are touchstones to address the ordinary circumstances of life, the inside jokes that still cause us to share a smile, a memory.