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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Such is life

A way to accept life's tragedies

As the executioner was slipping the noose around his neck, Australian bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly remarked his final words: “Such is life.” Imagine the defiance, the utmost acceptance of the cruel uncertainty of life that it takes to say this upon death. No matter what Kelly’s crimes were, this act of self-mastery is indisputably commendable, noble even. There is much that we college students can learn from Kelly’s final moments, but I do suggest that we have developed our own forms of a “Such is life” phrase, wholly independent from knowledge of Ned Kelly, but strikingly similar nonetheless. 

Imagine this scenario. You are a run-of-the-mill Notre Dame male student, age 22. Your favorite musical artist is Lil Baby. You wear a $105 Peter Millar polo shirt and $128 Lululemon joggers. You have an inexcusable attachment to Busch Light beer and sports betting, both of which are your personality. You just had the most miserable day of your life. Your girlfriend of two years just cheated on you with your best friend. You walked out of Four Winds in the red. Your mother deems you  a disappointment. In light of all the tragedy and mediocrity of your life, you take a deep breath and affirm to yourself the phrase: “Lock in.” A tear rolls out of the corner of your left eye. 

Imagine this scenario. You are a run-of-the-mill Notre Dame female student, age 22. Your favorite musical artist is … I don’t even have to say who it is. You cycle between clothes from Aritzia, Alo Yoga and Lululemon. Your Canada Goose winter jacket keeps you warm at the expense of approximately 12 geese. You are also an animal and environmental advocate. You have an inexcusable attachment to Vodka sodas and making out with people at Newfs. You just had the most miserable day of your life. Your boyfriend of 4 years just cheated on you in his dreams. Nobody complimented your cute top today. Your dearest friends debriefed without you, and you were the primary topic of conversation, unfortunately. Amidst the cascade of tears rolling down your cheek, you gaze into the mirror and say, “Girl, stand up.” The tears cease.

I argue that “Such is life,“ Lock in” and “Girl, stand up” convey essentially the same message of self-mastery, defiance and acceptance. Ned Kelly, ND Male 1 and ND Female 1 were all in scenarios of intense emotional distress, yet they did not allow their emotions to master them. Instead of self-pity, they comforted themselves not with sympathy but with control. Sometimes we need to convey to ourselves that our plights are not as bad as we think they are. Although many of us will not be faced with execution by hanging, I argue that many of the hardships that you will face in life can be mitigated by emotional mastery. Emotional mastery that begins with only two or three words.

Acceptance of the cruel uncertainties is not an option. It is an inevitable reality such that you either accept it or suffer otherwise. In our world dominated by technological and economic solutions to our most dire problems and the problems that we create for ourselves, we find ourselves lured into the illusion that we have more control over our reality than we actually do. It is prideful to think that we can prolong or prevent the calamities that will befall us, the greatest of which is death.

I argue that it is a beneficial practice to exercise emotional mastery with pithy sayings like “Lock in” or “Girl, stand up.” Though they are presently associated with humor and find their popularity on social media, I do believe that there is more to these phrases than we give credit to. There is a mysterious breeze of cathartic release that is prompted by these short phrases. By cultivating practices of self-mastery now, you will become gradually better at accepting how much life can truly be tragic. Perhaps, you might realize that these tragedies are not necessarily tragic by way of a disposition to reframe rather than give up. Perhaps in the final moments of your life, when the metaphorical noose is being slipped around your neck, you might have the defiance and utmost acceptance to believe that “Such is life.” 

Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame double majoring in finance and classics with a minor in Constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah by email at jtran5@nd.edu.


Jonah Tran

Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying finance, classics and constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah at jtran5@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.