Thursday, May 27, 2010

asked and answered

The other day, Live Emotionally was talking about refrains, those things you say to yourself when you don't know what to say. Hers were It could’ve been worse and I still have Lily.

There's a comfort in repetition and, said often enough, any phrase becomes both mantra and penance. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Words without end. Amen.

When I'm reminded of what I've lost, I think: I'm better off without them.

When I wish I were dead, I tell myself: You will be. You will be.

What's your refrain?

54 comments:

thordora said...

This is so unbelievably dorky, but "Fear is the mindkiller"-really, the entire Litany against Fear from Dune.

Sad, I know. But it helps :P

Patti said...

"God doesn't give you more than you can handle" is one of them. The other is my own "I can do this. Others have done this before me. I can get through this."

Kate said...

"it could be worse"

altho i love the litany against fear from DUNE (above)... maybe i should pick that one up too....

Magpie said...

Sharks patrol these waters.

Suzanna Catherine said...

"One day at a time..." and "Bloom where you're planted." :-)

livemotionally said...

Thanks for the recognition. You hit the nail on the head with it doesn't matter what we say. I haven't said my prayers before bed since I was a kid but on particularly difficult nights I will still repeat them until I fall asleep. It's just a way to drown out the bad thoughts, I guess.

I always said 'world without end' though. Either way works, I'm sure.

niobe said...

@liveemotionally: Of course, "world without end" is absolutely correct. I was just being (as is, unfortunately, my wont) too clever by half. Or maybe even by three-quarters.

Kymberli said...

"It wasn't because of me."
"This too shall pass."
"Be patient."

Maggie said...

I definitely fall in the "it could always be worse camp"...and occasionally in the "you can do this" camp too.

But mostly it's just "it could always be worse...it could always be worse..." over and over again.

If you say something enough times it is bound to be true, right?

leanne said...

"It could've been worse."
"This too shall pass."

Anything to convince myself that I will come out of whatever hole I've found myself in, that I HAVE to.

Amelie said...

At the moment: "I can slay the Jabberwocky" (or however you spell the beast)

niobe said...

@Amelie: Speaking of which, one of my nicknames for Cole is Jub Jub Bird. As in "beware the jub jub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch."

Lavender Luz said...

"Breathe, Lori. Breathe."

Emma's mom said...

This too shall pass.

Smiling said...

"there's always something around the bend"

And lines from the desiderata that have morphed through repetition:

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness

be gentle...

its is unfolding as it should

it is still a beautiful world, strive to be happy.

go calmly amidst the noise and haste

areyoukiddingme said...

Because I am an intellectual giant...my mantra is, "Eh, f*ck it."

Melissia said...

Ever since I was a very little kid, whenever people use to complain about being old my mom use to say "it beats the alternative". Little did she know know how true this would be in her case, as her three siblings died before the age of 45 of the family disease. When Mom died young, of the same condition, the minister used the phrase from the Bible and my mantra was born, "tomorrow is not promised to us".
Both remind me that life is a gift, and one that is to be lived now.

Betty M said...

Worse things happen at sea.

Anonymous said...

usually: "fuck my life" followed by reciting the Sh'ma (a comfort from childhood)

k@lakly said...

I need a drink.

Kelli said...

"So it goes." Slaughterhouse Five.

Alexicographer said...

Hmmm ...

When I was a kid, one of my mom's (mostly flip) phrases was, "Cheer up, things could be worse! So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse!"

But for real stress, probably, "You [meaning me] can do this," and perhaps, "Hang on [in there]."

Also, "This too shall pass. Maybe." That's sort of a conglomeration of the punchline(s) (?) from a Pete Seeger song from my childhood -- details appear here: http://everything2.com/title/This+too+shall+pass in the second entry, the one by FatAlbertTheta.

Kristin said...

It could have been worse is one of mine.

Another is At least it was his knee and not his back.

For a while, it was Even if we never have another, at least we have Marty and Joey.

missedconceptions said...

"It is what it is."

Dull, I know, but somehow profound? Perhaps I am flattering myself.

livemotionally said...

Bloggers that we are, words without end makes sense, in a less...eternal kind of way, but whatever.

So it goes - thanks for resurrecting that one for me! I'll add it to my life saving repertoire.

three minute palaver said...

"It won't last."

"It doesn't matter."

"I don't care."

"Why not?"

I use any or all of the above.

[they don't really work and in general use usually aren't appropriate or true to context].

diana said...

"Paris wasn't built in a day", "it could have been much worse", "life is not a contest", "brushing your teeth every night doesn't guarantee success", and there are more. Oh, and "this is to teach me to be humble" is high on stacks, too.

I haven't yet wished to be dead, but I did wish someone would be; I think I am better off? Don't know.

Amelie said...

so, who's the bandersnatch in your household?

Karen said...

I'm just having a feeling, just a feeling, just a feeling.

or

Things don't say the same. Nothing stays the same, so this can't possibly last.

or
Maybe this isn't what it seems like.


@thordora: my husband uses the Dune line too!

Anonymous said...

"Thinking that your luck won't ever change is like thinking it won't ever stop once it starts to rain."
And like Kym and Emma;
"This too shall pass."
allypally

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I meant Emma's mom.
allypally

tree town gal said...

"I know you can do it, you're brave. I know you can do it, you're brave. You set your mind to it, you see your way through it. I know you can do it, you're brave."

I sang that to my daughter as she learned to ride her two-wheeler after a major fall. It worked. It stuck. She told me she still thinks about this when she's nervous. Turns out, so do I; fear often gets in my way.

And I really like @Melissa...

niobe said...

@amelie: Ruby is my frumious bee. But you probably knew that already.

Melissa said...

"Better than a sharp stick in the eye."

also

"We're going to keep trying. We're still hopeful."

Rebeccah said...

"It could be worse." Because, y'know, I'm trained to imagine the worst-case scenario, and whatever I'm going through is never it.

"I'm one of the lucky ones; I got away before the buildings fell." You'd be amazed how often I think this ... and I don't even live in NY anymore.

"Just do this one thing." When life is overwhelming and I'm frozen with exhaustion, if I can get one tiny little thing done, I'm usually able to move on and get one more tiny little thing done, until eventually I see progress ...

Anonymous said...

The only way out of this is through it.

You don't have to like it you just have to do it.

Sue said...

"Well, no one I love died today. It could be worse."

And, "left foot. right foot. left foot. right foot."

Sue said...

Also, "I only have to get through this hour/class/day (etc)."

Panamahat said...

I'm still alive. At least I don't have a terminal illness or a major physical disability. And: two arms, two legs.

Miss Allie said...

Oh I have a few of these...

"it's a bless to have this test" which is something my grandmother used to say

"this is as productive as kicking my own ass"

"breathing might be the only safe next step"

"ok God I really think this time could have been used better"

Anonymous said...

If life gets too hard, I can always kill myself.

(a refrain I used to use often in my 20s)

Lindsay said...

'It doesn't matter that you're scared, it matters that you're strong.'

Mel @ The Preconceptionist said...

"It is what it is." I like that one.

joyandwoe said...

I don't have one where it pertains to kids, but I've yearned for one ... during those first few hateful colickly months I felt certain that if I only had the right incantation it would be the balm, the fix, the spell that helped me to be more patient and less angry. I never did find one, even though I searched and searched.

Maybe I should have just cross-purposed my applies-to-everything-else mantra: "The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone."

Yeah, that might have worked.

joyandwoe said...

Oh! And of course, there's this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On

I can't decide if I like the phrase or the iconic typography. Either way, it's served me well ... my boss used to have this poster up in her office and I often wondered how often she applied it to me. :-)

Bon said...

no quarter.

Jodi said...

Lately I have been telling myself, "don't look at the tray."

It goes back to waiter training--you're supposed to look straight ahead and concentrate on the destination, 'cause if you look at the big load you're carrying you will drop it.

It's been working okay as a mantra, actually.

Anonymous said...

"The only thing we are guaranteed is the moment we are in"

"If you hold on till tomorrow things usual get better"

Less profound...
"What. Ever"

Suzanne

three minute palaver said...

I asked my DH what his inner phrase is and he said it was something Walt Whitman's father used to say to him as a mantra, which is
" Keep a good heart because the worst is yet to come."

Anonymous said...

keep passing the open windows.

michelle hendrix-swords said...

'life isn't fair, get used to it.' but i still haven't gotten used to life being unfair.

jordgubben said...

Something Alton Brown says often during Good Eats struck a nerve and has become my mantra. "Your patience will be rewarded." It's nice to hope so.

Nearlydawn said...

I have 2 things I say:

"It will work out. I don't know how yet, but it will." This DOESN'T mean that it will work out well, or the way I want, or positive in any way, but it reminds me that ALL of the things I have gone through have eventually been worked out in my head and heart, and I've moved on. So, this will to.

I'm also one that says "It's better than the alternative", when someone complains about getting old. :)

Hubby added this one that he uses: "Don't just do something, stand there." I just wish he took his own mantra to heart more often. :(

passingwindows said...

I'm glad to hear someone else says I wish I were dead and then thinks well, you will be. It gives me a terrified little thrill every time I do that, and funnily enough often makes me feel a lot better.