A friend of mine was about to move back to the States from Madrid when he discovered that his landlord had no intention of giving him back the 2,000 euro breakages deposit from his rented apartment.
They’d left the flat in perfect condition, but the landlord clearly hoped that since they were going to leave the country in 2 weeks, they’d have to just forget about the money.
What the landlord was doing amounted to theft, and instead of relaxing into their last few days in Spain, they had to rapidly initiate legal proceedings with a lawyer, and work out how to manage the legal process from the other side of the world.
“But you know,” said my friend over lunch, “what can you do? We’re just saying It is as it is and getting on with enjoying the rest of our time here.”
“Hey!” I said, “that’s my new favourite phrase, it is as it is!”
Chus, my wise Spanish doctor-friend, had introduced this to me recently – es como es in Spanish. It is as it is – whatever happens, happens. You can’t fight reality, because it’s just reality. Shunning it, fighting it, resisting what is in any way just leads to suffering.
Yesterday the water was cut off in our building meaning the loo was blocked and unwashed dishes filled the whole kitchen. My mother-in-law was in hospital for an operation, and my wife, as well as being stressed about all that, was rightfully cross with me for not giving her a hand with something just when she’d needed it earlier on.
I promised to take our son out to lunch, then to the park, to give her some time off. She needed the space, and we really didn’t need one more bit of stress.
So on my way to pick up our son, the car broke down.
That clearly was going to mean an afternoon with tow trucks and repair workshops and calls to the insurance, and no lunch out with my son… and no space for my wife.
I left the car by the side of the road, jumped in a cab, and rushed off to get my son from school.
“If the car breaks down, the car breaks down!” said the taxi driver, “no se puede ir en contra de la vida! – you can’t go against life!”
He knew it too! Why had it taken me so many years to find this out?
Whatever happens, just happens, it is as it is, and everything else is just resistance to reality.
“But,” Chus had pointed out to me when she first shared these few words of great wisdom, “that doesn’t mean you don’t care about anything anymore, you don’t just sit back and give up. You accept what happens and then make a choice about how to deal with things.” There’s our freedom, in how we choose to deal with what is.
My son and I got the taxi home for lunch. I spent the afternoon getting the car towed to the garage and dealing with the insurance, while my wife spent the rest of the day happily playing with our son. Her window of personal space had gone, but she chose to have a great time with him instead. “It doesn’t matter at all,” she told me later, “es como es! In the end I had a really happy afternoon”.
Es como es… It is as it is… I think you can apply it to anything that happens, and while the sky is still blue, and kids are still fun, and trees are still magnificent, you can always find ways to happiness.