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Motivational phrases for finals 

Throughout the years, my voracious appetite for politics and history has led me to come across a wide array of slogans, phrases and soundbites that for one reason or another have stuck with me due to their significance, effectiveness or messaging. To me, they are comforting phrases that provide me with motivation, inspiration and hope to finish off whatever task is at hand. In my mind, if they were good enough to be spoon fed to the masses, they should be able to do the trick and motivate me. As finals week quickly approaches, I hope these help in one way or another. 

  1. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre! – This phrase, belonging to renowned Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, translates to “Until Victory Always!” It was included as part of the sign-off to a private letter sent to Fidel Castro upon Guevara’s departure from Cuba in the mid 1960s, and is easily one of the most identifiable phrases used today by the Latin American left. Although I do not sympathize with either of these men, nor endorse their beliefs in the slightest, I find this particular phrase a source of continual inspiration to keep on working towards the emerging victorious over whatever challenge that lies ahead. A victory against what, you may ask? That’s the magic of the phrase: its sheer universality. It could be a victory against a messy dorm room, the dining hall’s dinner rush, a treacherous job hunt, the search for an SYR date or a grueling Investment Theory exam. 
  2. No hay victoria sin lucha!, or “There is no victory without struggle,” belongs to former first lady of Argentina Eva Peron. Evita, as she is affectionately called, is widely remembered for being a tireless activist on behalf of the interests of the Argentine working class. This phrase, extracted from a letter exhorting Argentine women to fight for their right to vote, reminds you that in order to overcome any challenge one must first put in the necessary effort to make it possible. 
  3. Paciencia, prudencia, perseverancia, or “Patience, Prudence, Perseverance,” has been written on my dorm room’s whiteboard since I began college. I learnt the phrase from my grandfather, who wields an impressive knowledge of Spanish phraseology. This phrase is an invitation on how one should live their life, embracing these three virtues to avoid being caught off guard while always having what it takes to forge the path ahead. 
  4. Que no me retenga el pasado, y no me atormente el futuro or “May the past not retain me, and the future fail to torment me” is another of my grandfather’s phrases that has stuck with me to this day. I see it as a call to live in the present and avoid holding on to grudges of the past or clouding one’s mind with concerns about the future. After all, it is the present that gives us the opportunity to figure things out. 
  5. “Now is the time for guts and guile” is one of Elizabeth Taylor’s most famous sayings. It serves as a good reminder that one should make strides to always work with courage, cunning and smarts at the helm. 
  6. “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.’” comes from my favorite book “The Count of Monte Cristo.” It is similar in essence to number four, but draws special significance to me because it encapsulates the wonderful story found within the pages of one of Dumas’ masterpieces beautifully. 
  7. No se me raje mi compa comes from a song written during the days of the Nicaraguan Revolution, a clamor for perseverance, commitment and conviction. Although hard to translate, it best does so as “Don’t Give Up, My Brother,” and is yet another good phrase to instill the need to carry on. It also has been on my whiteboard since I started college back in the fall of 2019. 
  8. Obras … no palabras or “Deeds, not Words,” was a slogan used by the Nicaraguan government between 1997 and 2002. It was used to highlight the government’s campaign to develop the country’s infrastructure and rebuild after Hurricane Mitch swept through in 1998. It promotes the value of getting things done over vague promises that amount to nothing. It is a good call to transform one’s ideas into tangible, meaningful activities. 
  9. Soy responsable del timon, pero no de la tormenta, or “I am responsible for the helm, not for the storm” is one of Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo’s most memorable phrases, in the final year of his presidency as Mexico’s economy teetered on the edge of collapse. I have relied on this phrase for several years, and even included it as part of my graduation speech back in high school. Despite belonging to one of Mexico’s most controversial presidents, when put in a vacuum, it becomes a call of reassurance. After all, we are only responsible for the things under our control, and must do our best to weather the storms around us with our resources alone. 
  10. “When the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage and that is what I propose to do” was said by British Prime Minister John Major after having led the Conservative Party to its most devastating loss in over a century. Even in the throes of such stinging defeat, Major acknowledged his fate with dignity and grace. I really like this phrase because it is an invitation to know when it is time to move on to new endeavors, and to not hyper-fixate on adverse outcomes. 

Although this column is quite unconventional for me, dear reader, I hope you find in it a shred of inspiration as finals roll around. Best of luck to everybody!

Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes and karaoke. You can reach him at placayo@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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All roads lead to the Grotto

When I returned to my hometown in Northern Virginia for summer break, I felt a kind of dissonance almost immediately. My first few days were spent taking strolls and drives with friends, meandering streets that once felt so familiar, but now felt so different. My elementary school had been torn down, replaced with the bare bones of some new monstrosity, and the lookout spot that was the centerpiece of my youth was no longer open past sundown. Needless to say, it took a few weeks to feel like myself again—it took many trips to my favorite coffee shop, many late-night catch-ups and many journal entries. Of course, I missed my school friends and the daily stimulation of college life, but, perhaps more than that, I came to realize that I missed the Grotto. 

Throughout the summer, I found myself craving a safe place in my hometown where I could cry and unpack my emotions and feel everything — a place where I could be alone but amongst others. I found myself desperately trying to fill this void, desperately trying to find my Grotto. I tried going to the Basilica of Saint Mary, the one with the high ceilings and ornate paintings, but it didn’t feel right; I tried sitting along the Potomac River, the moonlight glistening against the water, but it didn’t feel right; I tried sitting in my car in the high school parking circle listening to nostalgic music, but it didn’t feel right. Nothing quite had the magic that I found at the Grotto; nothing could compare. 

Right when I thought I’d tried every place worth trying, I felt a strange calling to go to the hill by my house. I had just finished tutoring my neighbor and needed a moment of solitude, so I sat perched on that grassy hill for an hour, hearing the whoosh of cars combined with the crickets, feeling the rush and the stillness all at once. I looked at all the drivers passing by and began to think about all their lives, all their homes, all the complexity of their relationships and jobs and families. But thinking of all these worlds I would never know didn’t make me feel small, it made me feel like a valuable part of a beautiful whole. There I was, alone, an outsider watching from a quiet hill, but, somehow, I was so bonded to all these drivers. I was bonded by the humanity and beauty of being in the same place at the same time as all these perfect strangers. 

That’s when, for the first time since I’d been home, I felt that overwhelming, gut-wrenching Grotto feeling, a feeling of warmth and familiarity like the smells of our youth or the taste of our favorite foods. On that hill, I was transported to those cold South Bend nights, clinging to my wool coat, my fingertips turning blue, as I walked toward the Grotto. I was transported to the moments I saw the glow from the cavern, the moments I felt the warmth and love from hundreds of candles representing hundreds of people and intentions. 

Without a doubt, what makes the Grotto is the people. Without people, the Grotto wouldn’t be illuminated with candles each night; without people, the Grotto would serve no purpose. I’ve always felt the Grotto was a place for everyone to feel everything, regardless of background or religious belief. At the Grotto, all are welcome. Some Grotto-goers are Catholic, some aren’t; some go after nights out partying, some go after class; some go to pray, some go to sit and watch Tik Toks in peace; some go when they need a good cry, some go every single night. Some Grotto-goers go in packs, some go alone; some light candles for their best friends, some light candles for people they haven’t even met yet; some light candles in hopes of a good test score, some light candles in the wake of a bad test score. Grotto-goers come in all shapes and sizes, with all different needs and desires and lives. They are much like the drivers on the busy street by my house. 

Maybe my Grotto will always be that hill by my childhood home; maybe, later in life, my Grotto will become a person or a feeling or a prayer, but I’m learning that we all have a duty to ourselves to bring the Grotto everywhere we go. We all have a duty to be more human to each other, be the flame in the vacant corner. The Grotto is not just in Notre Dame, Indiana. The Grotto is in those moments you looked out for a perfect stranger; the Grotto is in that friend who is there for you unconditionally or the song that always puts you in a good mood. Here, the Grotto is our comfort place, but I’m convinced that all roads lead to the Grotto, even if those roads take you far, far away from Indiana.

Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog, or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at kcasper@nd.edu.