Now wait a moment, please.
I recently met an old friend in Tokyo at an event Google put on called SPAN. We had worked together years ago in New York at the graphic design studio 2x4 over a summer in-between terms. At the time, I was a graduate student at Yale and there was a lot going on. Yet, despite all the effort, I wasn’t always checked in. It was long after I moved on and started working and teaching in LA that it sunk in. I discovered a book they made about their studio titled it is what it is.
And it did just that, described the “things themselves” in 1000 images: sketches, models, prototypes, collages, animations, drawings and photographs. Process as product in full color. Impressive. I flipped through page after page, stopped at times. Then it hit me. The book in my hands was about celebrating the moment. Of embracing a world influx, in visual form. I had designed books like this many times before. Yet, I was failing to live it (and maybe still do) as a person.
Often used in the business world, “it is what it is” means the obvious but many think it literally translates into “fuck it”. But fuck what? What does ‘it’ actually represent? I believe ‘it’ actually is the limitations of the moment.
For better or worse, I believe the moment is all we really have to work with. Yet we easily conduct our lives forgetting. By forget, I mean miss the full extent of what we are capable of, our possibilities. Instead, we rely heavily on process, systems and adopt a robot-like way of seeing, thinking and doing. We wear cloaks of efficiency and productivity. We maximize tasks to avoid moments or we pre-plan ‘free’ moments ahead of time. Or we simply glide past them for other pleasures we deem important. We break contact with what is deepest in ourselves and which gives us our greatest opportunities for creativity, learning and growing.
We usually fall into assuming that what we are thinking (ideas, opinions, actions) is what’s right. And we pay a high price for these assumptions: for blocking our time, working in isolation, ignoring the richness of our present moments. The fallout is silent. Some might never quite understand where we are. We lock into a personal fiction that we’ve figured ourselves out. We already know who we are and where we are going. All the while remaining enshrouded in thoughts and impulses. Worried about the past or future.
To allow ourselves to be truly in touch with where we are, no matter where it is, we have got to pause long enough to let the present moment sink in. “It is what it is” is a state of potentiality and we control the level. It’s not a static thing. Be in the moment and don’t forget to allow “things themselves” to exist in all their rich uniqueness — without over categorizing or analyzing it. Now wait a moment, please.