“Mannaggia La Miseria” is one of the top 5 Italian statements I heard growing up. Oddly, I don’t say it. I use other Italian profanities but for some reason “Mannaggia La Miseria” hasn’t found its way into my vernacular. I devoted an entire chapter in my new book, Soul of a Lifter, to “Mannaggia La Miseria.” I didn’t even know how to spell it at the time. Even though I don’t use the statement, it’s near and dear to my heart. “Mannaggia La Miseria” strikes a chord deep inside. It resonates as deep as anything I’ve ever heard. Here’s why:
1. the literal meaning is “damn the poverty.” My parents and relatives saw a level of poverty in Italy that I have never experienced. It reminds me to shut the hell up when I complain about my modern problems. It reminds me how spoiled I am. “Mannaggia La Miseria” reminds me of how pathetic I sound when I whine when things don’t go my way, about how hard it is to win, about my skewed perception of the concept of struggle. My struggle will never match theirs.
2. it also means “damn the MISERY.” Misery was a common theme in the Italian culture I grew up in because even though most Italian immigrants lacked extensive formal education, they were street-smart. They understood that misery is a double-edge sword. Misery can drive you to greatness or plunge you into an inner hell of blabbering self-pity and mechanical sympathy-seeking. It depends on whether or not you grow some balls.
3. the third meaning is not so obvious. I think “Mannaggia La Miseria” also meant stop spreading your damn misery. My father dropped a “Mannaggia La Miseria” when I was 16 and mentioned that I wanted a day off from working at Maple Leaf Mills because “I had worked all summer” and “wanted to go to the beach.” In that context, “Mannaggia La Miseria” meant “stop spreading your damn misery.” Or else. It was a warning. I honestly believe that they had experienced enough misery in their lives and could not take listening to my trivial bullshit. They’d had enough misery to last a lifetime. They were saturated. “Mannaggia La Miseria” in that context meant “I’ve suffered more misery than you can imagine. Shut the hell up and don’t add more misery.” There was also a part B. It also meant, “You have no idea what misery truly is. You’ve got it made but you don’t appreciate it. You’re so caught up in self-absorption that you can’t see how lucky you are. You bullshit yourself by pretending you’re hard done by but you’re not.”
The beauty of “Mannaggia La Miseria” is that three words speak volumes. That’s the power of “Mannaggia La Miseria.” It fits many situations and it’s transformative. It changes your mind. Straightens out your head. “Mannaggia La Miseria” is life-altering. It’s powerful motivation that sends a message to misery – “I’m pissed off at misery and I’m not going to take it anymore. “
I didn’t realize it while growing up but “Mannaggia La Miseria” had a fourth meaning – “stop wasting your potential.” Deep down, they were imploring us to not waste our lives. They didn’t need master degrees or PhDs to understand that wasted potential guarantees inner hell. They knew that wasted potential always catches up to you. Always. Never fails. Wasted potential will haunt you. It will burn you up.
Last night I started my 41st season of coaching football. Forty-one seasons spent on a field yelling at people to run faster, run longer, throw harder, tackle harder, block and knock people on their ass, all for the purpose of scoring more points than the other team. I’ve yelled, “DO NOT QUIT” about two million times during my career, on the field and in gym. Over and over – DO NOT QUIT. The reason is that nothing pisses me off worse than wasted potential. I can’t stand watching my team trash potential. Why? Because those who have wasted potential share their misery with me years later and it gets harder and harder to listen to the misery of regret because it’s painful. I’ve wasted my own potential. I know the feeling. Its misery. Having more dumped on becomes pure hell.
I yelled a lot for two hours at practice #1, even louder than normal, because as wasted potential grows season after season, the weight gets heavier and heavier. I’m on a mission to stop the waste of potential – my team’s potential and mine. I don’t want to share misery with others and I don’t want their misery shared with me. Pardon my language but I’m re-wording “Mannaggia La Miseria” to ‘Fuck Misery.” It’s time to take “Mannaggia La Miseria” to another level. “Fuck Misery.” All of it. Fuck the spread of misery. Let’s all commit to stopping the spread of misery. Let’s commit to replacing the spread of misery with piling up points. Let’s commit to substituting the spread of misery with the spread offense and spread defense. Let’s commit to misery prohibition. Let’s spread the word – FUCK MISERY. Please share this blog and let’s try to change the world by getting one million followers to join in with the message that will lift souls – FUCK MISERY.
Thank you to all our new blog readers and subscribers and all your comments. I truly appreciate your time. I’m honoured/honored that you’d read even one word of what I write.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
owner – X Fitness Inc.
head coach – Oakville Longhorns football team
author – Soul of a Lifter