I took Latin in middle school. I remember liking it quite a bit, though I don’t remember much of it now, at least not consciously. Equus. That’s the only word that stuck from way back then—and I wasn’t even a horse girl. But I loved the dissection of language to some of its original parts. That part fascinated me, and still does. I also relish thinking about being tethered to the past linguistically.
I was happy to become reacquainted with Latin during law school and in the courtroom. It feels like a secret language. The phrases add a certain flair to legal arguments, at least when used correctly. De novo. Certiorari. Duces tecum. In limine. Quid pro quo. De minimis. In camera. There are dozens I used regularly, but I’ll quit while I’m ahead. The sad truth is, I don’t really use these terms anymore now that I’ve veered from that path.
But I recently stumbled upon another Latin phrase that I am so very much in love with right now:
in medias res
I’m reading as much as I can about the craft of writing short stories. Unlike a novel, you don’t have the luxury of having a long wind up to tell your story. To overcome this, one of the frequently mentioned tips is to start the story in medias res.
in the midst or middle of things
In other words, don’t start at the beginning. Get to the meaty middle where the action is already happening. You don’t have enough time to do otherwise.
I’ve been turning this phrase, in medias res, over and over in my mind this week. And I figured out why it resonates with me so much. I am unequivocally in the midst of
my daughter’s childhood
learning something new
too many books
figuring things out
some wonderful beginnings
some sad endings
my very own life
Our world has existed for millions of years, with millions upon millions of lives. In that context, each one of our own lives is, in a sense, a short story. Yes, of course there is a beginning and an end to each of those short stories. But I think the best parts are to be found in medias res, and that’s where I am.
What is your favorite Latin phrase?
Copyright (c) 2015 Kristen M. Ploetz