I learned long ago that there are very few things in this world that are absolutely true. Most of what we think of as fact is colored and shaped by our backgrounds, moods, mental and emotional states, time, space – just about everything. Like the blind men and the elephant, we feel what’s in front of us and think, “Aha! That’s what it is!” We are often right and wrong at the same time.
Just now, when I think that I have restored my long-absent sense of self-worth, something happens to make me question my value all over again. Having knocked down the defective markers against which I have measured my life, I wander, adrift, unable to get my bearings. I know what I see, but is it real, or a mirage? Am I right or wrong, and who is to be the judge? I am ready to forge ahead, but have no idea which way to go or how to steer.
Yes, I feel confident, but you may just think I’m cocky. It’s entirely possible that my new-found self-assurance blinds me to the feelings of others – that in my joy at having an opinion I lose sight of the fact that there are views besides my own. After a weekend exchange of words – made in jest, or no? – a close friend ignores my texts and email. Or maybe she is just busy. I am angry, unsure of why she started it. But did she or, unwittingly, did I?
Questions swirl around my brain, unanswered and unknowable. Words are my stock-in-trade: with a keyboard and a mouse, I strike and rewrite, reword and correct. Yet spend any amount of time with a dictionary and you will have yet another question: how many meanings can one word possibly have? It depends on what you mean by “meaning.” (Suddenly, I discover empathy for Bill Clinton.)
If words – written down in black and white – can be so malleable, how much more so are our thoughts and feelings. I have learned, for example, that when I am bone-tired, everything takes on an emotional tinge. It is a signal that I can ignore the feeling for now and examine it again tomorrow.
Despite my new attitude, I navigate uncertainly through this minefield of nuance. Sometimes I will succeed, and sometimes I will fail. But as long as I do the best that I can in the moment, I will just have to keep moving forward and accept it for what it is: life.