What with this zombie thing (I did indeed make the “short list”!) and some other mind-springs, I have been thinking about a phrase that seems to be everywhere nowadays: “it is what it is”. For some time, I thought it was a pretty good phrase, in that I needed to let things be and accepting the phrase means taking things as they are and not expecting them to change. Which can save heads from beating against brick walls, if one chooses the wrong things to expect to change. But of course, as with all things, there is an other hand to this.
My dad had a sign over his desk that I will never forget. It said, “the difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer”. I don’t know who was being quoted or if that was just another of those phrases that pop up to meet some need in our worlds, but it was a phrase that my dad tried to live by, I think. It is what it is was not for him. His expectation was that things could be done, and that if other things needed to change to achieve his aim, then those things would change. Maybe it was a war thing–dad served in the army in WWII. The impossible might save lives, so you did it. That sort of thing.
But beyond that, pretense is all around us. When it became possible to make clothing cheaply, and even shopgirls could buy them instead of hand-sewing their clothing, whole new horizons opened up. One writer in the late 1800’s noted that from a distance on the street, it was impossible to distinguish between the rich and poorer ladies now that the latter could buy “off the rack”. Recall “go west, young man”? Going west meant more than just follow a dream of riches. It also meant that should you burn a bridge or two where you were, you could move on to the next town and become someone different. Cats long ago discovered that purring brings food more often than hissing.
Acting is becoming someone different–think zombies! Also think professing, something I did for a bit over twenty years. For me, walking into a classroom meant becoming someone different–someone competent and authoritative rather than someone shy and anxious. Every day it was “showtime” and I became who I needed to be for my students. Simply living means being able to become someone different. Men and women all over the world become someone different when they walk down a dark lonely street alone. We move like we belong, like we are dangerous, like people who had better be left alone should a stranger value his/her life.
This whole thing is about perception. It is what it is for each of us, but we each do not necessarily see what someone else does. At some point, I had saved a marvelous quote by a psychologist (whose name, in my senior moment world, is not at the tip of my tongue) that I cannot recall precisely so I will murder it instead: I think I know what I said, and you think you know what I said, and I think I know what you think I said, but we may all be wrong. So sorry, because I know that is not quite it, but you get the picture (or not!). Can we know what it is and whether it can be something else unless we test it? Does it really have to be what it is? Would it like to be something else, every once in a while? Does it even matter what it is?
Change can be a mere perception, a random thought. Or it could be impossible and take a little longer. Sometimes, change is not a good thing, and things should be let be. The change might be real, or not real but perceived. Whatever (is but perhaps isn’t, a Schrodinger cat).
Be careful out there. It might not be what it is.