Oh my, oh my. Life goes on and on and on. No matter what, life is fluid, always moving, like the ever-crashing waves on the shore, like the fluffy, funny looking clouds and luminous stars in the sky. Life is ever changing, and so am I. But, even as quickly as the clouds move and change their form, somewhere in the world, a cloud always appears. Waves will always change with the tide and the stars will forever remain a distant pattern in the sky. “It is what it is,” right?
So, when I heard the words fall from my mouth after a close friend asked me how life was during our long-awaited birthday dinner, I was stunned at such a cliché dropping from my lips. “It is what it is,” I said. Oh boy, talk about a cliché. Yuck, I can’t help but think, is this really me giving such a devoid answer. Was I copping out with this statement? Was there a laziness in my response?
After giving it some thought, my answer was a resounding, “No!” I was not copping out. I realized that what I meant when I said, “it is what it is” was that things are neither this way nor that way. Or, better yet, “things are just as they are right now, and I’m okay with that.” To put it simply, it was a very subtle phrase implying that I just don’t have an adequate description for what is going on with me and my life. And, as I contemplated the tautology further, “it is what it is” is really just another way of me saying that I am currently pondering my life situation just as it exists with all of its glorious uniqueness and ambiguity that comes along with it.
For a long time, I don’t think I truly understood the phrase. I took it to be a sad cliché indicating the acceptance of something even if it meant that the “something” was less than. Taking it a step further, it could have been a resignation of a situation that currently existed which I felt I did not have the power to change in that moment. So, I acknowledged and accepted “what it was”, even if it meant I was not particularly trilled about it.
“It is what it is” may be understood as a cop-out, meaning this is just how life is and I am not going to bother to try and change the situation because “it is what it is.” What I have learned is that it takes a great deal of effort to not become this cliché. It means taking positive steps towards change. Learning, applying ourselves and always moving forward. The ability to make a change is hard but it is harder if we don’t care enough to try. And, if you don’t care to try, then it definitely “is what it is.” I suppose the situation just may not be important enough to change because it is easier to just go around, over and under it, rather than go through it, face it and beat down the obstacles. I am not sure.
For me, personally, I don’t feel this is a negative statement. Saying “it is what it is” describes a profound way for me to make sense of the world around me. It gives me the chance to think and conceive my life situation and the world I live in outside the box. It gives me the continuity of knowing that I can conceptualize things in my life in new and imaginative ways. “It is what it is” leaves me open to a whole world filled with possibilities. It is a phrase that says, I am comfortable with the ambiguity in my life. Like I said, life is fluid, but right now, “it is what it is” and I have the potential to unfold various changes when I choose to. Like the waves in the ocean, the clouds and stars in the sky, I can be a pattern of creativity and allow my mind to move slowly into a richer understanding of the situation I am in. Just trusting what is and allowing myself to be gives me the opportunity for some introspection and movement. So, for today, if you want to know how I am doing, let me simply say, “it is what it is.”