According to some sources, in the 1970s the University of Colorado cafeteria sported a motto painted on the wall: Illegitimi non carborundum. The supposed translation of this phrase is “don’t let the bastards grind you down.”*

This may be urban folklore, or it might be true. I have some doubts because it was reportedly used by US Army General “Vinegar” Joe Stillwell during World War II and later by Barry Goldwater in 1964. In my considered opinion, given the possible sources it would not have survived on the wall at CU for any length of time. Now if it had been attributed to Che…that might be a different story.

Regardless of its source, it is good advice. Anything you undertake to do, if it is worthwhile, will have naysayers telling you how wrong-headed you are, or worse, tell you how you should do it. I’m not suggesting you should ignore help; it is often valuable. And some things are clearly impossible. I’ll never be twenty again. Heck, I’d be happy if I were forty, but it ain’t gonna happen. What I am saying is you should have the strength of will to evaluate your goals realistically, basing your decisions on your needs, not others’ preconceptions.

Look at that lonely tree in Castlewood State Park. The crevice you see is just large enough to hold a little soil and a bit of water when it rains. Yet someday that tree will send down roots big enough to split the rock in two. It won’t happen this year or the next, but eventually the tree will triumph. Tenacity pays off in the end.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

*The phrase is actually nonsense, not real Latin at all.  Perhaps the closest translation really is “the unlawful don’t have silicon carbide.”

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