While showering the other day, I was contemplating the old phrase “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” It popped into my head seemingly out of nowhere, as I hadn’t heard it in decades. I remember my friends and I saying it in the early 80s, while giggling (probably because we weren’t supposed to be cussing yet). While it was fun to say on the outside, on the inside I wondered “Really?! Is it true? Is that what I have to look forward to?!”. While I understood that sooner or later everyone dies, the rest of it didn’t sit well with me. Although…being a super short, twig of a girl with glasses, braces, and no clue how to use a curling iron— there were definitely times where I felt it. Life WAS a bitch, and in high school, it felt like it was chewing me up and spitting me out more often than not.
When I thought about it some more, I had actually heard the “Life’s a bitch” part here and there earlier on while growing up. (Langston Hughes coined it in the 40s.) Most likely being said to me after I whined about not getting the toys, shoes, or jeans I wanted. It was popular terminology used to shape a society and remind us that “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need…” (thank you, Rolling Stones). In 1982 “and then you die” was added on for effect. Such drama! Not long after, though, people were looking for more ways to color their world with fun. The fatalistic part was dropped and the phrase morphed into the still trending “Life’s a Beach!”. Being a lover of the sand and sun, I grabbed onto that one whole-heartedly. It just felt better to dream of sunny beaches, than to expect the worst. It became a mantra for the remainder of my high school years.
As I am shampooing my hair and returning to the present moment I grinned to myself, repeating the early 80s phrase. I, again, asked myself “Really?! Is that true?”. As a 40 something adult with tons of Life experience under my belt, I emphatically affirmed “YES, it is. Life IS a bitch, and then you die.”
BUT…( I like big “but”s and I cannot lie).
Life is ALSO a Beach.
Its messy, scary, amazing, sunny, rainy, outrageous, horrendous, loving, hateful, confusing, overwhelming, wonder-filled, spectacular, over-the-top, crazy, ridiculous, crappy, ecstatic, blissful, etc…leading you up to the highest of highs and dropping you down to the lowest of lows. Life is, well…life. It can feel warm and welcoming one day, and cold and lonely the next. It’s positive and negative, good and bad, all in the same sentence or moment. It is all of these things…and then some. What I’ve discovered and experienced over and over again, is that it really matters how we respond to all of it.
What do you do with what life throws at you?
I can honestly say that there were moments (many of them) where I wanted to throw in the towel. In fact, there were days when I raised my hands to the sky and proclaimed “Either make this easier, or take me now! I quit. I’m done. I can’t stand the pain of it any longer.” It was after those moments of exasperating surrender that things seemed to turn a corner. Life got a little easier and the sun shined a bit brighter.
Life is often a mirror reflecting back our fears and desires. What I know for sure is:
What you resist will persist.
While we are in fight mode, life will continue to give us things to fight for. If we expect to struggle, it will make sure we do. If we think life is a bitch, it will show just how much of one it can be and create more battlegrounds than we can walk on…until we surrender.
When we stop, give in for a moment, relax and open our minds, life delights in surprising us. We may suddenly be able to see all the possibilities we were unable to see while resisting. Life has so many paths and options to choose from if we are open and willing to choose again (and again, and again…). The possibilities are limitless. You have the option to change your mind and your life experiences from day to day. Life, in all its complexities, is a continual reflection of us. I, for one, can relate to Meredith Brooks when she sings, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover…” (see video link below the blog post). As we are all of these things, so is life. There are a multitude of options to be, and choose from, every day we wake up on this planet.
As humans, we are far from perfect…why on Earth would we expect life to be?
Bitch or Beach?
~ Jody Pogo :o)