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It Is What It Is--Skeel

I first heard this expression two years or so ago, when a poet friend in New York used it. It reminded me a little of Bill Clinton’s disquisition on the word “is,” and much more of a little poem by Galway Kinnell which managed to squeeze three “is’s” into a single three word line. (The poem, “Prayer,” I think in its entirety, is: “Whatever what/is is is/what I want. Only that. But that”)

I quite like the expression in small doses. Used once in a conversation, “It is what it is” seems to me to suggest a clear-eyed acceptance of complexity that doesn’t pretend that every difficulty has an easy solution. Used more than once in the same conversation, it quickly becomes annoying.


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