“It is what it is”

by Brad on January 24, 2011

“It is what it is.” To some, it’s a brilliant and freeing perspective on life. To others, it’s new-age denial of life’s “obvious difficulty.” To nature, it’s all there is. Nature has been a powerful, in-your-face, yet compassionate, teacher throughout my life. Being fully present in nature allows me to listen clearly to her lessons. I’ve learned as much from what nature doesn’t do as from what she does do. One message that continues to impress itself on me is nature’s complete lack of interpretation. There’s simply no judgment in nature – no right/wrong, good/bad, should/shouldn’t. True, there are consequences. Storms blow down trees; volcanoes cover the land with lava, wiping out life in its path; lightning may ignite fires; earth’s orbital dynamics create cycles of global cooling and warming, making fundamental changes to life on earth. Consequences. No judgment. Here are a few humorous observations nature might make if she were to adopt the same endless interpretation that we have adopted.

  • A rock in the middle of a river fighting with the water because it was wearing down its edges
  • The river fighting back, tossing the rock onto the banks in disgust
  • A cactus, jumping up and down bitching at the heat and the lack of rain in the desert
  • The tides, taking a day off, tired of coming in and going out, with no one appreciating them
  • A polar bear, deciding to go to college to make something of himself, feeling that hunting seals had become demeaning
  • Palm trees making fun of white spruces because they didn’t have enough sense to come in out of the cold

You get the point. Nature just keeps doing what she does – replicating, improving, innovating – fine-tuning her exquisite process of creative expression. “It is what it is.”

Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” For most of us, unconscious beliefs – drivers of our interpretation – are things we “know for sure.” That’s how they became embedded in the unconscious in the first place; once we “know for sure,” we no longer need to think about it each time. The result: many of the things we “know for sure” …. “just ain’t so.” Only with regular, continued self-observation can you come to see your unconscious beliefs, discovering how you’ve built so much of your life and thought process around what “just ain’t so.” New practices open new neural pathways in the brain, “roads not taken,” places where old interpretations give way to new possibilities.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Leger January 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Curiious as to how you came to your realizations? Reading, living, the combination? Stumbled upon your roadnottaken site. Ended up here.


Brad January 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Thanks Barbara. re: coming to my realizations. I’ll use the word you used … I stumbled upon them. For over 30 years of my adult life, I was the “rock in the middle of the river,” constantly fighting with the flow of life all around me, “knowing for sure” that this was the way to “win.” 30 years of “eating well yet starving” finally awakened me, and I’ve been a student of “new ways of seeing life” ever since. Student Status has served me so much better. And the rock and the river now live in harmony.


Steve Tom February 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Once again, your shared observations are valuable to me and an integral part of how I choose to see the world around me. Indeed it does free one from “trying harder” to “make things” better and to “change others.”


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