What's your mantra?

einstein/focus graffiti If I were Carly, surely the title of this post would have been, "I forgot my mantra" (and the subhead, "And stop calling me 'Shirley'").

If I were Neil, it might have been, "Mantra, schmantra."

If I were Brandon...hell, I dunno. He's got about 40 IQ points on me. Maybe "/mantra"?

But I am me, and my mantra is this:

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

Now I know it's not a mantra in the traditional, Buddhic sense: a set of words used during meditation to provide a point of focus. I mean it in the more Westernized sense of a credo or motto, something I feel sums up who I am, what I'm working on and what I believe in.

But it is a half-assed mantra of sorts, in that I tend to use it, to actually say it aloud, or 'aloud' in my head, when I get into a tight place. And yeah, to complete the circle of craziness, 9 times out of 10 I find myself in that tight place because of my adherence to the credo/motto/mantra.

It's also more like a mantra in that it was cosmically gifted to me, not because I was hunting it down in Bartlett's. In fact, it came up so organically, I was pretty sure I thought it up myself, and was mighty proud of myself for being such a smarty.

Of course, I didn't. Via the magic of Google, I discovered that opera singer Beverly Sills had coined the phrase, which means I probably stumbled upon it first sometime in the '70s or '80s, when my mantra would have been something exactly the opposite, if my head were far enough out of my ass at that point to even have a mantra.

To seal the deal, my ersatz mantra was a natural progression from something I laid full claim to. For as long as I can remember anyone asking, which probably was sometime around the beginning of my sophomore year in college (a.k.a. that time in your life when you officially begin Pompous Ass-hood), my ready answer to the question "what is your pet peeve?" was "wasted potential".

(I think this is where Brandon and his 40 extra IQ points would type "/barfs".)

I have no idea if this will remain my mantra to my dying day, unless of course, that day comes way earlier than I'm planning on. But it's a good enough one to hold me: short, strong and sensible. Easy to follow, too. Except, of course, when it isn't.

Then again, that's the whole point of a mantra...

xxx c

More great pearls from Beverly, here.

Photo by Dave Gorman via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.