Words capture me. I love to hold onto a phrase and mull it over. Many times it ends up as kind of a mantra or goal for my days or a situation. Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) was my first real “phrase love” after watching Dead Poet Society. Much later Eucharisteo (Thanksgiving) impacted me after reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Coram Deo (presence of God) has found its way onto this list of phrases that sit deeper in my soul and impact the way I think and act.
An odd one has found its way into my psyche lately that is not quite as earth shattering or soul shaping per se, but powerful none the less. It found me while I was watching comedian Bone Hampton on Dry Bar Comedy (see video at bottom). I laughed along and enjoyed the segment with his phrase, “it is what it is.” It was adopted not just by me, but my entire household. Bone angles it in a negative way, and it does seem a little nihilistic at first, but for us, it has been freeing.
When something happens that in the past would have frustrated us, even though we really could do nothing about it, we now just declare this phrase over it, “it is what it is.” It is almost a release. We let the frustration go, and stop mulling over it and holding onto the emotions that usually would build up as we wrestled with the “what was someone thinking”, or “why would someone do that”, etc… but this declaration said, with our best Bone Hampton imitation of course, helps us to laugh and then release it because it really is something that is… just is... nothing we can do about it, not in a helpless way, but in a way that it is not our responsibility, and really isn’t ours to fix.
Yesterday as I stopped at the third construction site in a 10 mile stretch of road, that phrase popped into my head, “it is what it is.” I was tempted to get frustrated because I had not counted on extra construction in my travels, but construction in itself is neutral, and in fact, a good thing. They are fixing the roads. No one was trying to delay me, it was nothing personal, “it is what it is.” I can see it as a general fact of my day.
There was construction, I needed to recalculate my errands to get to my appointment on time, or I can be frustrated and let it take over my thoughts until I become angry and anxious. On this same trip I was in a line waiting to check out. It was taking longer than expected. When it was my turn it also took longer than expected, that phrase popped in my mind, “it is what it is.” The cashier was not trying to make me late. The manager with the override was not trying to frustrate me or the cashier. She was doing the best she could in her circumstances. I was able to peacefully wait, not that I would have done anything differently had I not been thinking “it is what it is,” but frustration and anxiety would have arose.
I was now going to be later because I also still had to face all the construction on the way back. “It is what it is” kept mulling over in my head. The stuff is actually neutral, Bone contends it always is bad stuff that phrase follows, but much of life is neutral and has more to do with my interpretation and response. Like I said, nothing earth shattering in this latest mantra, but definitely a helpful refocus and helps me to have a better perspective on the situation. It stops my emotions from dictating the moment and allows me to better evaluate it and see it more what it is than how I feel about it.