Monday, June 07, 2004

It Is What It Is

I'm just back from one of my frequent Northern Ontario fishing trips. The weather this May was much more overcast and rainy than last May. Cold too. It just was. And I accepted whatever the day brought. I was not in control. Whew! Wildlife was abundant. The common sightings were the usual loads of loons, beaver and Canadian geese. And this year I was rewarded with the not so common, one black bear, one bull moose and a wolf. Most nights I was lulled to sleep by the whippoorwills. Oh, yeah, and the fishing, as always, was grand!

Days were simple. I’d wake, tend to breakfast and some good strong coffee, beeline for a lake I had not yet fished, fish like it was a job, and amble back to camp in the evening for a little dinner, campfire and reading. The next day I’d get up and do it all over again. Mother Nature and I collaborated on the change in my routine. I fished a different lake each day. She determined whether I put on long underwear or a tee shirt, sunglasses or my rain gear, bug netting or not.

Prior to my trip, I’d been talking with contractors about getting some work done around the house. When I decided to get involved in these projects, I began looking at my home and surroundings with a more critical eye. I’d see one thing that needed work and then I’d begin noticing the things connected to it that needed work too. I was making myself a little anxious and crazy.

Just before I left, a cement contractor came to give me a bid on some work in the garage and basement. I was in quite a state by the time he arrived. He could have easily sold me a huge repair job. But as we walked around the house, through the garage and down into the basement, he kept saying, “Well, yes, we can fix that, but it's not a structural problem. It's cosmetic. It is what it is."

I found that simple statement so freeing that I have come to adopt it as a personal tag line. When I look at things in my life that are less than perfect, I first assess whether or not I have a structural problem. Is the repair necessary for my safety or well being? If not, I sit with “it is what it is” long enough to relax. “It is what it is” brings me the same peace I felt while on my fishing get-away when I’d wake and watch another day unfold without much direction from me.

Often, we have things we hold on to too tightly. And that white-knuckle grip does not necessarily serve us. We have become attached to how these things define us. Sometimes it's things, like our home and car. Sometimes it's other people, our relationships. And sometimes it's a role we play at work or in our personal life. The process of letting go, becoming less, in order to become more of who we are requires a little bit of “it is what it is” faith.

Fresh from my fishing vacation and with my new mantra, I had a delightful Saturday playing with a couple of my friends. We all came to the day with “stuff,” things big and small that were plaguing us. We simply let go and wandered the Northern Michigan trails and two-tracks, talking and leaving bits and pieces of our expectations in our dusty trail. We trusted that we would not lose ourselves in the process. That there is a core to us that is undeniably stable and strong no matter where we live, work or who we associate with. It is what it is, and we just let it be. Oh, and stopping for ice cream helped! Thanks, Jean and Corey.

"You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by." ~J. M. Barrie

"A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

"A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition." ~William Arthur Ward

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