“It is what it is.”
How many of us have heard this time and again? How many of us have SAID it time and again? In its most basic translation, it is a very profound statement. If you think of the NOW in an existential sense, “it is what it is” seems like a great truth. But I have begun to hear it more and more in off-handed ways that seem to dismiss a person’s own liability regarding their circumstances. I feel like it has become a statement someone makes when they just give up any responsibility for something that they are unhappy with in their lives. Lets face it, something only “is what it is” because “we’ve done what we’ve done.” Einstein is very famously credited as defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result.” Should we wish a different outcome to a recurring problem, or even grander, should we wish a different LIFE, we need to DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY. I have talked about this before as I am trying to train myself to recognize when I am in maladaptive patterns. I know that I cannot offer enlightenment to anyone other than myself, but I do think we more easily recognize things in others that we actually do not like in ourselves. Others are the mirror in which we see ourselves. So when someone says “well, you know, it is what it is” I try and ascertain if they are actually saying, “I don’t want to look at what I may have done to actually CAUSE this situation.” Then I ask myself if there is something that I am trying to change or an event or circumstance in my life that I am hoping will be different.
In the same way, I often hear people say “I believe that everything happens for a reason.” And its as if this is to excuse any manner of situations that they may or may not like, but more often than not, it comes as a way of trying to explain away why they have suffered some kind of injustice, accident, or negativity in their life. Things happen for a reason. Yeah, you crashed your car because you were driving drunk. Your wife left you because you were emotionally abusive. You were fired because you never did your best at your job. Yes, things happen for a reason. That doesn’t mean to me that God WANTED that particular outcome, but it was the most LIKELY outcome given our participation in the events leading up to it. It doesn’t propose to be the BEST outcome or the most desired but it is logical. Again, at its core, the existential truth is profound. But operationally, there is ALWAYS cause and effect. To make the most of such a truth, we must then activate within ourselves the greatest gift we have. Free will. Free will to do something DIFFERENTLY the next time. CHANGE who we are by refusing to stay the same as we were yesterday.
I do believe we can and should LEARN from every situation. I bless these universal truths and I am very thankful that SO many people are there to remind me of them on a daily basis. Whether on a bumper sticker, on a wall hanging, or in casual conversation, these truths jump out at me. How I process and demonstrate them is up to me. And I am ready for a change.