I don’t know about you but I often find it difficult to wrap up conversations in a reasonable time. Like visiting in-laws that overstay their welcome, some conversations linger for too long for wont of the conversationalists knowing how to wrap them up.
Actually my opening sentence should read “I often found it difficult….” But no more. I have stumbled upon a truly versatile closing catch-phrase which can give virtually every conversation a satisfactory and speedy conclusion. And that phrase is (drumroll please) ….
“It is what it is.”
Think about it. First off, since it is a tautology it is always true. No matter what the context you can’t possibly say something false. The statement is essentially a rehash of Aristotle’s law of identity: A=A. But try ending a conversation by saying “A=A” or “Yes, the law of identity is necessarily true” and you will likely be met with a puzzled stare. By contrast “It is what it is” generally yields a thoughtful nod from your conversation partner.
Second, it sounds wise, like an excerpt from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Thus you have all the wisdom andd fortitude of an ancient Stoic, thereby ending the conversation on a high note.
Third, buried in the back of the phrase, the implicature as it were, is the following propositional content: “I’m going now” or “I’m going to hang up now” or “This conversation is going nowhere so time to wind it down.” But rather than saying such abrupt and socially inept things (some elephants in the room are better not named) you slip your fisted wish into the velvet tautological stoic glove of “It is what it is”, the other person gets the message, and you both move on with your day, satisfied at the culmination of a successful exchange.
All this leads me to wonder: given how versatile this phrase is, did Jesus ever use it?
John’s disciples: “Lord, are you the messiah who was to come?”
Jesus (shrugging): “It is what it is.”
Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that some more.