A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend at a cocktail party about the economy, jobs, and other uplifting topics. In the course of our discussion, my friend mentioned another friend who had had a great job, but got laid off. After a long search, the friend ended up taking a job she normally wouldn’t have. The job required a long commute, and lots of long days in the company’s rural headquarters. No surprise, my friend was described as “less than enthused” about the logistics surrounding the job, but thrilled nonetheless to be employed again. As my friend reached for another cocktail she said, “Basically, she doesn’t love her job, but, you know… it is what it is.”
It is what it is. I thought about that the next day, as I stumbled out of bed at 5:00 on a Friday in order to avoid the heat wave we were having. As much as I did not want to be out so early (especially on the heals of a cocktail party), I wanted to get a run in that day. 5:00 a.m. was my only option; I could either accept it for what it was (the only time of day I could breathe outside) or I could complain to myself about it in my head for the next 6 miles. As the sunrise shone over the water, I decided maybe 5:00 a.m. indeed wasn’t so bad. Early yes, but with beautiful benefits.
The next balmy day again had me out early, this time on a 16 miler mapped out by my running partner. Even at 6:00 a.m., it was hot. And muggy. At mile 12, we both were cashed, but unfortunately far from home. We had already complained about the heat index for three plus miles, so this was old news. I had already told my friend (several times) that sweat had gone inside my ear, resulting in temporary deafness. Both of us were drenched, tired, and crabby. However, we both seemed to have made a silent pact not to say anything further about our dire straights… it’s as if we had given in to our situation and taken it for what it was. Hell on earth.
A few hours later, showered and in the comfort of air conditioning, I was watching a movie that showed a little girl taking a piano lessons. Memories came back to me, as I recalled the hours and hours I spent in Mrs. Siebert’s living room. I remember how I begged my parents to please, please let me quit. Couldn’t they see I had absolutely no talent? Yet, for at least two years, in perhaps a character building attempt on their part, they told me I had to keep playing. In this case, I have to think that It is what it is didn’t need to endure for that long. A year’s worth of torture would have been enough time to build my character nicely and give me adverse reactions to maroon pencils (my teacher used the same one each week) and the sound of “Three Blind Mice.”
So it seems there are certain instances where accepting things in their current condition make sense – less than ideal jobs in a bad economy, rough spots during runs that you physically chose to partake in, and conditions that we really have no control over. However, it also appears that we tend to say It is what it is an awful lot in our everyday lives – out loud, or perhaps subconsciously. The problem with this comes when we continue to do things that go against our nature because it’s easier to keep up the status quo than rock the boat.
Maybe the solution to this dilemma comes with two simple words added to the phrase… It is what it is, for now. Nothing’s forever, after all. So, while we toil away at those jobs we hate during the day, we need to remember that even in a bad economy, there are indeed other options out there, and it’s okay to pursue them during our off hours. The same goes for other things we accept as “it”- from bad relationships to bad cars. We don’t have to hang on forever just because of current conditions. With hard work and motivation, we can turn It is what it is into It is what I want it to be.
So, keep forging forward on your journeys, friends, and if the going gets rough remember that bad runs, just like bad piano lessons, do eventually come to an end. We can thank our lucky stars for that.