I talked to a friend today about the various problems we are facing in this, our fourth year of grief, and she said, “It is what it is.”
Robert Hartwell Fiske calls such sayings “quack expressions,” saying they “readily explain behavior that the dimwitted otherwise find inexplicable, and justify attributes that they otherwise find unjustifiable.”
He’s right to a certain extent, and yet . . .
My friend is anything but dimwitted. She, like me, is struggling with life, death, grief, change, and other life experiences that are inexplicable to everyone, dimwitted, brightwitted, or somewhere in between. Sometimes it truly is what it is, quack expression or not.
Despite what the positive thinkers and those who believe we create our own reality profess, much of life is beyond our control. We don’t decide who lives and dies. We can’t choose who we love or despise (though we can choose what we do with those feelings). We can’t always help people who need to be helped. We can’t hurry along or slow down natural processes, such as childbirth or old age. Nor can we recreate the world to suit our desires. The sun always rises in the eastern sky and sets in a westerly direction. The moon always affects our world, though myths tell of a time before the moon came to stay. And, as they say, time and tide wait for no man. (Though I suppose, being a woman and not a man, I should be able to sway such natural phenomena.)
It is what it is.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with a couple of situations that are not of my making, that I have no control over, that don’t affect me in a primary way (besides tearing me apart by conflicted loyalties). I can’t solve any of the problems that have arisen, can’t walk away from them, can’t change anything. All I can do is realize each situation is what it is, and let it go as best as I can. (It helps to realize that in a case of divided loyalties, my loyalties belong to myself.)
In my writing, of course, I stay away from such expressions since I like my writing to have a tinge of elegance, but life is not always elegant.
It is what it is.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.