In English we use the term ‘take it with a grain of salt.’ This roughly means to accept a thing with a little healthy skepticism, or don’t take it literally. For example in my family we have a vehement ongoing disagreement over the temperature on the thermostat. Every spring and late fall we launch hyperbolic verbal missiles about what the setting should be. Usually phrases like ‘it’s freezing in here’ or ‘I am boiling to death’ dominate the engagement. This is not limited to the house but accompanies us into the car as well. These verbal volleys should be taken ‘with a grain of salt.’ After all we are not really freezing or boiling to death. (It’s 68 in the summer and 72 in the winter if anyone wants to know what the right temperature is.)
The saying is a translation of the Latin ‘cum grano salis.’ There are different origin stories for the phrase. Some people say that there was a certain poison the antidote for which was a grain of salt. Others say that a Roman general tried to make himself invincible to poison by ingesting small amounts to build up an immunity. To make the poison more palatable he ingested it with a grain of salt. Either way, salt lessens the poisonous effect.
In Italian ‘Salis’ also translates as ‘wit.’ Meaning ‘cum grano salis’ is also understood as, ‘with a small amount of wit.’ This fantastic phrase, with its duel meanings happens to be one of my mantras. I love it so much I write it on the handles of each of my fencing bags every time I get a new one. To me this is one aspect of what having a good Attitude in Terrasylvae means.
Like Safety I believe there are internal, external and influential depth to the attribute of Attitude. I sum them up in three questions. Do you have a positive Attitude internally? Do you present a positive Attitude externally? Do you encourage a positive Attitude in others?
Do you have a positive Attitude internally?
I truly believe in the kindness of people. I believe most everyone wants what is best in the world. I believe people want to be happy and help others be happy. Generally, people are good. In Terrasylvae we encourage our members to assume that others have the best intentions. These ideas are the foundation for having a good Attitude. You simply cannot have the kind of Attitude we talk about in Terrasylvae if you believe the world is a horrible, unredeemable, dark place, and that all the people in it are worthless monsters. Internally you have to choose to have a positive outlook. And I do mean choose. Positive Attitude is a choice regardless of outside influences.
Do you present a positive Attitude externally?
There are people that have a resting face which looks like they are upset all the time. They aren’t mad but they look like it. Additionally they might think the world and people in it are generally pretty cool but they only recount the negative. They only talk about what is bad or disconcerting. It is possible to master having a positive attitude internally but forget entirely to show it externally. Especially if everyone around us is speaking negatively. If you have a positive Attitude, let it show. It doesn’t have to be much. Smiling, laughing and focusing your conversations on the positive helps a lot. I’m not suggesting presenting a false face to the world. I do not believe in being fake. However I do believe in emphasizing what is truly important. In this regard I mean choosing to externally manifest the positive aspects of our Attitude over the negative ones. And doing it on purpose.
Do you encourage a good Attitude in others?
It is important for us as Terrasylvans to actively encourage a good Attitude in others. Through the language we use and the actions we take, we can be a powerful influence for good that will inspire others to manifest the good that is in them as well. We can do this not only at fencing but in our personal lives. We should do this. How this is implemented will be as unique as each individual in Terrasylvae. But I believe as we all strive to have an ever increasingly better attitude Terrasylvae will grow in strength. Individually and collectively. We will have a more positive Attitude on Friday nights and we will take that out into the world wherever we go. That is the kind of world I want to live in. We might be only one grain of salt among so many billions but we can lessen the poisonous effects all around us.
I chose Cum Grano Salis as a mantra to help remind me to not take life over seriously. And also to take everything with a small amount of wit. In other words have a positive Attitude. Have fun. We spend our precious time on Friday nights with Order of the Rose, to have fun. That is really the reason we fence. When we get too serious we forget that. We do all this sort of crazy stuff “recreating” medieval combat because, its fun. We “kill” each other because, its fun. Gearing up, is fun. The incomparable feel of a sword in hand, is fun. Being Safe, Honorable and Skilled, is fun. There is no feeling in the world like leaving the field, sweating, and tired after a great fight. This is fun!
I know fencing can be frustrating at times. I have good nights and nights where I think I will never improve. When I feel this way I remind myself not to take things over seriously, and with a small amount of wit. I let my frustration ‘be the catalyst for whimsy.’ (James Veitch, Unsubscribe on YouTube) On rough nights I smile and laugh choosing to emphasize what is truly important. Having a positive Attitude is more important than being a skilled fighter.We are there to have fun. Being a member of the Order of the Rose is, at least in part, about having a good time. We can do this by cultivating and maintaining a positive Attitude.