Saturday, 11 July 2015

Letters to Live By

We live in an age that is awash in messages composed of a few letters that stand for a whole lot more. I wrote a post about that a while back when I entered the brave new world of smart phones with messaging capabilities. LOL. Well, the folks who popularized cell phones may think they invented all this cool internet slang language, but I have news for them. Back when we were youngsters, there were initials too, that we used to communicate meaning.

In fact, we even had a weighty word for these initials: acronyms – i.e. (that is), initials that are short forms of phrases or expressions. For example,  e.g., which  means ... ta dah!: for example!

I did a little prowling on the internet, and discovered that acronyms were rarely used before the 1950s. Those that were common at that time were often short forms of Latin phrases: e.g. (Exempli gratia), AD (anno Domini), a.m. (Ante Meridien) etc. (et cetera).

Mom often included the letters DV in her letters to Holland when she wrote about events that were being planned.
Mom's letters to Holland after she and dad immigrated were a real life line. I'm fortunate to have a treasure trove of them.

“We will be going to Dunnville to visit Klaas and Martje DV next weekend,” DV meaning Deo Volente – the Lord willing. Those two letters were so ingrained into my upbringing, that I still have a hard time talking about plans with others without including DV in the sentence. After all, “Man proposes, God disposes” – an old-fashioned phrase that has not yet been acronymatized – but these days, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to include MPGD in our internet lexicon to remind us that we’re not totally in control of our destinies.

Letter writing was something we did a lot. I had a pen pal, and most of the letters I wrote to her ended with a PS (post scriptum), where I wrote bits of news that I’d forgotten in the main body of the letter. Then, getting silly, I would add PPS, PPPS, and sometimes even PPPPS. PS could also stand for public school. (Today, PS can mean a host of other things, Play Station being one of the more common ones.) Sometimes, I’d add SWAK to the back flap of the envelope: Sealed With a Kiss. Apparently, those initials became popular during the 20s and 30s, when military men posted overseas sent letters home to their sweethearts.

Another great set of initials was D.A. Only guys could have a DA hairstyle, but oh my, they were cool dudes, rocking the boat and thumbing their noses at society. We teenaged girls swooned!

DA stands for Duck's Arse

Fonzie had one, too, plus lots of stuff going on up front. What a dude!
In the 60s, we gathered around our TV (if we were fortunate enough to have one) to watch NHL games on Saturday night on CBC -- or we'd play a game of table hockey.

Or we'd watch The Man From UNCLE later in the week. U.N.C.L.E  stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, an organization that was at war with  T.H.R.U.S.H. "Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity." Is it my imagination, or is THRUSH still around these days? That just may be the explanation for so many instances of dehumanization these days. Time to send out an SOS to the men -- and women -- from UNCLE.

We had many other important acronyms “way back then”: UN, NATO, NAACP, USA, OPEC, NASA, RCMP. And no, LOL was not invented by teenyboppers. Doctors have been writing that on hospital charts since the olden days to denote Little Old Lady, usually with some extra initials to describe her condition: LOLWNAA – "little old lady with no apparent ailment" being an example.

Which brings me to my current letters to live by. NB: these are important!

The first is LIG. My wise baby sister taught me these three little letters when I was spazzing out a couple of years ago, trying to manage oodles of  details with two sons getting married 2 months apart. LIG stands for Let It Go. When you’ve done what you can, but there’s still more on the list, you need to LIG. Will the world come to an end if everything you thought was important doesn’t get done? No. And will you be happier if you just LIG? Yes. (More importantly, would the people who love you be happier if you would just LIG? Yes.)  And this does not only apply to weddings. Surprise, surprise, it also applies to life. We are not totally, utterly, always responsible for everything.

The corollary to LIG is NMP – another acronym Fran taught me. NMP means Not My Problem. Certainly I have problems I am responsible for, but not everything is my problem. I can't fix it all. When I have done my best to live at peace with a fractious person who wants to keep fighting, then it is NMP anymore. I need to LIG. When I’ve suggested a solution to a difficult situation, and the people in charge aren’t interested in what I have to say, then it is NMP. I will LIG. My responsibility is to sort through situations and decide which are my problems, and which are not.

Because, in the end, IIWII, and IWBWIWB: It is what it is, and it will be what it will be. MPGD.

And thank God for that.

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