I was walking across campus this morning and saw someone smoking a cigarette and the phrase “Fuck It!” just popped into my head, for it seemed to me that this is what smokers must say to themselves when — despite the indisputable truth and common knowledge that smoking kills — they choose to start smoking, and they must say it again, regularly, at least subconsciously, every time they light up.
It might sound something like this:
Fuck it! I’m gonna die someday anyway!
At least that’s what I did, when I smoked for a short time during my college years.
From that one example, you could extrapolate that “Fuck It!” is purely a bad thing. And yet, as I’ve deliberated on it, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Fuck It!” can be a force for good or bad, and it all depends on the choice it accompanies.
The Bad of “Fuck It!”
“Fuck It!” can function as a foolish and futile deferral of unpleasantness.
There’s a long list of actions we take that don’t necessarily have immediate significant negative consequences: smoking, eating poorly, eschewing exercise, cheating on your wife, cheating on your taxes, embezzling, etc.
However, inevitably, these things catch up with you. And, while I don’t have personal experience with all of those examples, based on similar experiences I have had, I think the deferral of unpleasantness expires somewhere between 45 and 50-years of age.
For instance, on the topic of health, your body can handle only so many instances of the following:
- Fuck it! I’m going to order that sixth pint of 7+%ABV beer!
- Fuck it! I’m going to watch the entire 4th season of Battlestar Galactica in one sitting!
- Fuck it! One more pint of ice cream won’t hurt!
- Fuck it! I’ll start riding my bicycle again when the rainy season ends! (Bellingham inside joke.)
- Fuck it! I’m going to ski this Double Black Diamond run even though my knee has been bothering me.
The Good of “Fuck It!”
Sometimes “Fuck It!” moments can be liberating, usually marking the choice to feel the fear and do it anyway. Fear can be a mighty prison, within which, the longer you’re an inmate, the phrase “I can’t” becomes a knee-jerk reflex, increasingly making life smaller and smaller and less fulfilling, possibly even dangerously so.
Therefore, it’s not hard to see the possible benefits of any of these:
- Fuck it! I’m going ask her to the prom!
- Fuck it! Screw withdrawal symptoms, I’m going to quit smoking!
- Fuck it! To hell with my fear of flying, I’m going to take that 15-hour flight from Seattle to Sydney, Australia!
- Fuck it! I really don’t need that iPad and I’m cutting up my credit card!
- Fuck it! I know it will be hard being a single mother, but I’m gonna take my kid and leave my abusive husband and go to that women’s shelter I heard about!
Saying Fuck It is like massage for the mind – relaxing you, releasing tension, giving up on things that aren’t working. Just starting to say Fuck It can transform your life. Saying Fuck It feels good – to stop struggling and finally do what you fancy; to ignore what everyone’s telling you and go your own way. John C. Parkin argues that saying Fuck It is a spiritual act: That it is the perfect western expression of the eastern ideas of letting go, giving up and finding real freedom by realising that things don’t matter so much (if at all). This is the Fuck It way.
Perhaps I’m being cynical, but I’m well aware of the eastern idea of non-attachment, and when I read that my mind easily rushes to the many bad manifestations of “Fuck It!”, only some of which I mention above, and I just can’t see how “Fuck It!” can even come close to being the ultimate spiritual way.
I’m totally ok with the playful, irreverent tone that Parkin and Pollini employ. It makes more accessible a great and potentially life-changing subject that might otherwise be dry and woo-woo and a big fat turnoff.
Now, I haven’t read Parkin’s and Pollini’s book, so perhaps I’m wrong and they get around to addressing the possibility of “Fuck It!” manifesting badly. In acknowledgment of that shortcoming, I hereby conclude this post with a video that they produced in order to explain their philosophy: