a quote a motto, whats a motto for u?
January 8, 2021 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I need a good motto

Probably the one that really applies is something like 'She always bites off more than she can chew,' but I'd love it to have a more positive context. Something like the saying if you don't dream big you never go anywhere, but I don't love that one either. Mostly because it is a little too positive?

I would be fine with a decent quote if a saying doesn't apply.
posted by aetg to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
From Charlie Papazian: “Do not worry. Worrying is like paying interest on a debt you may never have owed.”
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:00 PM on January 8, 2021 [5 favorites]

“Of course I don’t know what I’m doing, what fun would that be?”
posted by nickggully at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

I posted this on my F’book page recently:

Resolution for 2021:
Stop caring and fretting about how late in the day you get moving.

And this is not exactly a motto, but a favoite saying of mine:
The average bumblebee has more credibility than a man in a suit.
posted by BostonTerrier at 4:02 PM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your suggested quote seems similar to Robert Browning’s ‘a man’s reach should exceed his grasp / or what’s a heaven for?’ (From Andrea del Sarto).
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:12 PM on January 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

I always liked “a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.”
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:35 PM on January 8, 2021 [10 favorites]

Have you seen The Godfather? Great movie. My absolute favorite scene is pretty early on, at the hospital after Vito Corleone has been shot. Michael gets there and realizes his guards have been sent home and his father is there alone at night without protection. He knows the Solozzos are coming back to finish the hit, but he has no backup.

And then from the dark hallway emerges a stranger. Who are you? "I am Enzo, the baker!" he says. Michael tells him to get lost. Enzo insists on staying to help. See, at the beginning of the movie, Enzo's future father in law asks Vito for help with his immigration situation, and Vito, being well connected, pulls the political strings to make it happen. Enzo owes fealty to the godfather, so stays to help.

Michael and Enzo both go stand outside the hospital and mug tough, which scares the Solozzos off and saves Vito's life.

It's a great scene because this Enzo guy is just a baker. What does this man who bakes cakes for a living know of this kind of life or violence? He came to deliver flowers to the godfather's sickbed! And within minutes was putting his life at risk. He's scared but he does it anyway. He does it out of duty, he does it because he's brave, he does it because sometimes life requires more of you than the strict definitions of your day to day.

Anyway, for a motto suggestion I submit to you: I am Enzo, the baker!

It's certainly not cliched.

The scene.
Further reading: In the book The Godfather, Enzo is a butcher, which is just ridiculous and ruins everything I love about this scene.

posted by phunniemee at 4:57 PM on January 8, 2021 [10 favorites]

She doesn’t do things by half.

Or the Vorkosigan family motto - Anything worth achieving is worth overachieving.
posted by bananacabana at 4:57 PM on January 8, 2021

In a nod to Ram Dass, “be here, now” has been a motto/mantra that I’ve enjoyed.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:16 PM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

In times of trouble, I am fond of Dortmunder the thief's (stolen) family motto QUID LUCRUM ISTIC MIHI EST (dog latin for "what's in it for me?"
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 6:32 PM on January 8, 2021

My favorite, especially now, is “Don’t look back, that’s not the way you’re going”’
posted by kittygrandma at 7:19 PM on January 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

She always bites off more than she can chew

The positive spin on this is exactly my personal motto: "Embrace the power of 'and'."

To me, it means to reject false dichotomies and fake choices, and also to not feel like I have to hold myself back, rein in my appetites, or take up less space in the world.

I borrowed this from someone else who I'm certain must have borrowed it from someone else, and I know many others who use it. I'm sure we're all fine if you use it, too.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:03 PM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Leap and the net will appear" has been a meaningful one for me for quite some time.

I also like "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
posted by DingoMutt at 8:32 PM on January 8, 2021 [5 favorites]

A few of my favorites:

"Live your life as if the truth is true." -- a paraphrase of Dorothy Day

"If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life." -- Abraham Maslow

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You're never a loser until you quit trying." -- Mike Ditka
posted by forthright at 8:54 PM on January 8, 2021 [4 favorites]

personally I use (and if i ever considered a tattoo it would be this): “don’t stop when the hell comes”, to remind me to keep doing the right thing in the face of adversity and negative pressure.
posted by alchemist at 9:20 PM on January 8, 2021

"The only way out is through" keeps me going.
posted by Thella at 9:26 PM on January 8, 2021

I like Samuel Beckett’s
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

I think it can be boiled down to Try Again. Fail Better. as a not super optimistic but affirming (to me) motto.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 9:57 PM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Probably the one that really applies is something like 'She always bites off more than she can chew,'

The more positive (or maybe kind of mixed) version of this that came to my mind was "My candle burns at both ends" from the poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (the whole thing probably a bit too long for a motto, but I think it's lovely):

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:12 PM on January 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

What I had, I gave.
What I kept is lost forever.

If I wasn't failing, I wasn't trying.
posted by AugustWest at 11:19 PM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

From the joke:
"How do you eat an Elephant?"
"One bite at a time."
you might go for "You eat an elephant one bite at a time."

It's probably over-reach to see if we can fit it into the 'meet your heroes' / 'see how the sausage is made' adage wherein 'you don't don't want to see how your your heroes make sausage' but in any case, if you meet your heroes making elephant sausage, they make elephant sausage one link at a time.
posted by k3ninho at 3:08 AM on January 9, 2021

You can't win if you don't play.
posted by basalganglia at 3:53 AM on January 9, 2021

I still keep this old .signature around, even bothered to set up gmail to use it.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world. -- Anne Frank
Paradise is exactly where you are
right now...only much, much better. -- Laurie Anderson
Of course it looks different in a monospaced font and there are more spaces between the quotes and attributions, enough to line up the k and the n with the t. :)
posted by kingless at 4:28 AM on January 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I thought I really wanted a tattoo, long before tattoos were popular, I had a hard time deciding what it should say. Eventually I picked:

Born to Break Even.

Never got the tattoo.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:40 AM on January 9, 2021

Better to bite off too much than to starve to death.
posted by Rykey at 5:55 AM on January 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

One I live by is "All things in moderation including moderation itself"
posted by mostly vowels at 4:25 PM on January 9, 2021

Life is not a meaning. It's an opportunity. (Sol Gordon)
posted by wittgenstein at 2:17 PM on January 10, 2021

« Older Graphic novels that are painted, not drawn.   |   When you gotta go, you gotta go.... shopping. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.