Ambiguity

Ambiguity. A bondhu recently said, looking at two people, "there is no ambiguity" in the bondhutta (friendship) between the two people. Such an important moment in a relationship when others can watch, and they observe the complete lack of speculation. Sanguineness is a rough opposite of ambiguity. And finding that certainty is a difficult thing in life. Afterall, life is a series of risks with one risk-free event. Until then everything is risky. And in that theater of risk, finding a moment of peace - knowing that "All Iz Well" is something we all seek, but often find difficult to pin down. The classic cliché of "does he love me? Does he love me not?” while plucking out the petals of a flower has been memorialized by the romantics, with the obvious predictable, although mostly false answer, depending on the number of petals and which question one starts with conveniently ignored by the romantics. But there are moments in life when one runs across a situation where the ambiguity disappears, the pretenses fall off, and there is a sense of certainty that indeed things are gloriously good, or brutally bad. The key is recognizing those moments and being honest with oneself. When the things are good - pursue that relentlessly, with reckless abandon. When you know things are bad, walk away from it and save yourself the inevitable pain. Yet, ambiguity battles hope. We lull ourselves into believing that perhaps it is not as bad or boost ourselves with the hope that things are good. An impossible choice with horrendous outcomes - the people of Jewish faith in the Warsaw ghetto or the teenage girl who still thinks that the guy will come back, even after the ghosting (if you do not know what ghosting is, then you should return to the Twentieth Century) that she experiences from the guy who promised her the World. But if there is hope, then you pursue it, give it your best shot and perhaps the ambiguity will disappear, and the relationship you are hoping for will actually happen. Our lives become this constant struggle for reducing uncertainty until you start to realize you are running out of time. The curious relationship between ambiguity, hope and time is something that causes anxiety. Think about how many ways in which this manifest. With COVID-19 we lived with it. The numerous waves, the obscurity of knowing what will happen, the longing for a solution and the sense we are running out of time led to a global anxiety. And we are still there, word of unknown variants percolate through news and the anxiety returns. It happens in relationships. Restless nights. Not knowing what she really means. The puzzles embedded in short messages and "OK"s and the hope it means more than the two letters. Perhaps time will tell. In the meantime, the messages fly over the Internet, constantly seeking to find a meaning to it all. In the end, the solution is action. Statis only increases the anxiety. More messages, more silence, more ghosting, but eventually something will break. That is the hope. Having taught all my life, and with my experience of moderating meetings for my research, I have learnt one thing - we dislike silence. As a teacher the sure way to encourage students to talk is to ask a question and then be silent. Try it. People cannot tolerate silence, and it causes anxiety. And someone will give in and answer the question - because the silence in the zoom room is intolerable. The weapon of ambiguity is silence. Nothing hurts more than silence, the hope for an answer and the final realization that an answer may never come. You have been ghosted. It is what the members of the Allan Parson Project perhaps meant in saying, "Don't answer me/Don't break the silence." It is the same as asking the question, "Where Art Thou?" and being met with a deafening silence. And at that point you die. Ambiguity is over, no more risk.


Comments

Unknown said…
well expressed; clear treatment of an ambigous topic !
Many thanks for your comment, indeed

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