Here's a phrase for you: 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis'. It's usually translated as 'Art is long, life is short' (or something similar - there are a few different versions of the translation). As I understand it, people use it to say something along the lines of: "You're not going to live a long time, but if you create some wonderful artistic work like a great novel or poem, then it will outlive you by yonks."
Or, some people use the same phrase to mean something like this: "You're not going to live a long time, but it takes ages to learn how to create beautiful or great work. It's such a bummer."
OK, fair enough, both of those might be true. BUT IT'S NOT WHAT THE PHRASE ORIGINALLY MEANT.
I feel another rant coming on.
The first person to use the phrase that we know of was Hippocrates, an ancient Greek doctor. (He wasn't ancient at the time, but he is now.) So let me ask you this: why would Hippocrates be going on about great art and writing novels or poems? He was a doctor, for crying out loud!
And in Latin, 'ars' doesn't mean 'art'. It means 'skill, method, technique' (and by extension can be used to describe a person's character or conduct).
Here's what Hippocrates meant when he said 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis' (according to me):
"It takes a long time to learn the craft of being a doctor. But I don't have a long time. My patient's life is slipping away by the second. I'd better perform this crucial operation with the knowledge that I have right now, rather than studying for years and years to get it exactly right, by which time the poor sucker will definitely be dead anyway. What a tricky situation."
So if you're going to slip a Latin phrase into your everyday conversation (and why don't you?) use this one. But use it to mean: "We could mess about forever trying to learn everything there is to know about this subject, but by then our decision will be useless. We'd better make the best choice we can right now, based on what we do know."
What do you think?