The Mexican Proverb

“If people truly love each other, when do you say enough is enough?” The girl starts blabbering about commitments, time, and a myriad of things. She sees his stupefied look, and she knows she’s somehow missed it by a mile. “Never”, he finally says.

“The Mexican” proverb is the advice given by James Gandolfini’s character to Julia Roberts’ (and the title is about the gun, not the setting) in the movie and is not to be confused with any general Mexican (or Latin-American) proverb.

Update for February 22, 2012: It took me a while to realize that many of you who have come here were looking for a genuine Mexican proverb.  I apologize if you mistook the movie Mexican for the real saying.  To rectify that, and to remain in the same vein as my post, I give you this Mexican saying,

 “Donde hubo fuego, cenizas quedan”.  Where there was fire, ashes remain.   My post here talks about persisting through the hardships and the pain.  Love should be about living and staying with your partner, even when the feeling starts to die.   The quote in the movie says, “When do you say enough is enough?  Never.”  In the same way, where there was fire, ashes remain.   When the zeal of love falters, love still remains.  It fades, but it is there all the same.  Love endures.  Love takes a patient ride.  Love smolders, and burns us from within.   Where there was love, love remains…

For a further list of literary treasures from Mexico, this reading can suffice.

To the original text:

The Mexican was a romantic comedy about a hit man, forced to do errands by a mob boss who he had gotten imprisoned. The title seems ambiguous at first: is it named after the assassin sent to kidnap the hit man’s girl? Or is it because the setting is in Mexico, and it therefore being a Mexican drama?  (Eventually realizing what the title is about is worth it, I have to say) In either case, there was this one line in a scene which struck me as profound: the assassin sent to kidnap the girl has gotten comfortable with talking to her, about life and love in general. When the girl vents her frustrations to him about his boyfriend (the hit man), the assassin asks her this question: “If people truly love each other, when do you say enough is enough?” The girl starts blabbering about commitments, time, and a myriad of things. She sees his stupefied look, and she knows she’s somehow missed it by a mile. “Never”, he finally says.

There are times in relationships when that word, “Never”, seems so fantastic. We feel trapped in an endless series of arguments, misunderstandings, conflicts and mistrust. Sometimes, we simply feel trapped by the life we’ve chosen to lead, and force ourselves everyday to maintain sanity.

But picture this: you are a sailor in a ship, and everywhere around you is the beautiful, endless sea. It beguiles you and seduces you. Your life from the cabin to the deck has become intolerable. In comparison to the sea there is no freedom in the endless rusted steel, and the smell of uniforms. If you jump to the sea, and leave the ship behind, what freedom have you gained? You have no place to rest, or eat, or have comfort of company. You are drowned by the vast, endless sea, which you thought was better than the ship that carried you.

Go back, standing at that deck. What have you missed here? The ship, though it is filled with orders, and endless cramped spaces, carried you. That ship kept you alive. Don’t throw yourself to the sea if the ship seems intolerable. Change yourself, and your perspectives, even though they seem small in scale. For even the smallest things can spark a chain of events which could take you to a better life. Maybe not perfect. Maybe not great. But it could be better.


In any relationship, you have to give everything of yourself to make it work. You put your trust, and faith in this commitment, though being wary of its flaws. It is said “Love is never having to say you’re sorry”. Rather, love is never being afraid to admit your faults and mistakes. Love is knowing that things will get rough, and that there will be breaking points, but accepting them, and becoming stronger by them. You are each other’s ships, and you carry each other through.

You make sure that you’ve worked long and hard to make the relationship work, for if it suddenly falls apart on you, you know that it wasn’t your fault. You know in good conscience that you never loved any less. For most sadness stems not in having to long for the loss, but for feeling guilty, and thinking that somehow, this was your fault.

The movie leads to another breaking point in the story, when the hit man inadvertently shoots the assassin, which, by that time, had bonded and grown fond of the hit man’s girlfriend. Devastated, the girl decides to leave, but at the last moment, asks him the question that was posed to her: “When do you say enough is enough?”

Without missing a heart beat, he says “Never.”

Love is taking faith.