Riding with Thelma and Louise
“It is what it is.” The line may not have been original, but when a character played by Leonard DiCaprio in the movie “Blood Diamond” uttered it, it seared itself into my consciousness. It was one of the “Aha” moments that Oprah has popularized.
For me, it was when I finally got “it.” Right there in front of me was the answer to the unanswerable questions and situations without resolution. “It is what it is.” No way around it, under it or through it. No excuses. No explanations. No resolution. No way to change it. No one to blame. No one to fix it. It is what it is, now deal with it. Just deal with it.
In those few words, I discovered a way to avoid the constant head banging when I just couldn’t make a situation go away. I might have analyzed the mess up and down, in and out. I might have looked back in history for the beginnings of the problem. I might have looked for someone to blame and someone to make it right. I surely would have looked into what I did to contribute to the quandary.
Many times in our lives, even many times in a day, we might come slap up against an issue, a roadblock or a pothole that seems insurmountable. How much time do we waste looking for a cause or a conspiracy, when the situation is simply not going to go way? It simply is what it is, and there’s nothing left to do but just march through it to the other side.
I would not suggest that we try to justify, condone or rationalize all that brings us to the point of where acceptance is the only answer. Some situations are more than distressing, cruel, totally inexplicable or logic defying, but being so doesn’t mean there’s any choice but to duck our heads and march on, as did what is called “The Greatest Generation” when they marched through The Great Depression and then into World War II. There are parallels today.
Locally, we’re being pummeled by soaring heat and humidity. But for random thunderstorms, the heat and drought are killing or diminishing crops and stressing beef and dairy cattle herds. Yet when I visit with the growers and vendors of local produce and products on Wednesdays at the Clark Street Market, I sense a re- markable resilience in the face of nature’s obstacles. They say to me that they’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation. Such is the life of a farmer. Every growing season is a roll of the dice, but there are certain people who seem to thrive on hard work without any promises of a return. For good or ill, the life they’ve chosen “is what it is.”
I have to admit, however, that I’m having a very hard time applying my proven mantra to the situation surrounding the debt ceiling talks in Washington, D.C. I want to rail, scream, cry and throttle somebody. I want to blame everybody. I want to bang some heads together. The expected level of stately discourse and debate that ought to prevail in such critical situations has devolved into nothing short of ugliness, disrespect, threats, brinksmanship and ideological throwdowns more fit for the crowds at Saturday night wrestling shows. I find it hard to say stoically “it is what it is,” and march on when what “it” is, is simply surreal. The government is days away from defaulting on its financial obligations, and predictions by the best and most experienced economists and academics say the result could throw the world back down the financial hole we’re still clawing our way out of. The United States has never before been where we’re heading, and much is unknown about the full extent of the ramifications that are dire at best. There are, of course, nut cakes who deny that we’re anywhere close to economic collapse on the basis of nothing but what they happen to think. I’ll let you figure out to whom I refer.
This is not an original thought; it’s only what our mothers taught us: A resolution to a situation must strike a balance between what each side wants. Neither side should get all they want, and both sides need to give on things they believe to be sacrosanct. (Curiously, there appear to be three “sides” in these contentious meetings.) Balance: some people need a dictionary to learn what that word, little used these days, actually means. Compromise is not necessarily pretty. If everybody’s a little bit ticked off, the solution is probably a good one. Right now, everybody’s plenty ticked off but there’s no solution in sight. Think Thelma and Louise, and we’re all in that convertible.
Would a grown-up please show up?