Thursday, March 08, 2018

Eschew Ambiguity

Something I have noticed bubbling up in my life over the last few days is the fact that lots of things in my life are ambiguous.  I suppose this, like some others things, have come to the surface because of training for Iai. But the precise words - eschew (a fancy word for "shun") ambiguity - have suddenly appeared in my head in the last few days. 

Repeatedly.  And in bold type.

One of the cornerstones that my manager runs his life by is eliminating ambiguity.  His rationale for this is that it makes things easier for everyone if every knows precisely what is expected of them.  There is never any question of what people need to do or what the deliverables are.  By being complete and precise, everyone knows what needs to be done, by whom, and when.  So perhaps after working for him for almost 2 years, something is starting to sink in.

But the ambiguity I am thinking of is not about deliverables or schedules per se; it is more about clarifying one's own life.

I like ambiguity.  I like it because being ambiguous allows one to never have to make a clear decision.  One can always veer back and forth between two opinions or stop doing something in one's mind while thinking "I am just taking a break (perhaps quite a long one)".  Ambiguity allows a certain sense of mental freedom - but a freedom, I would argue, that is really rather imprisoning.

The prison?  It is that by being ambiguous, I never ultimately move in any direction.  I am caught in a nexus of possible decisions and choices that I never make.  Like a spider I may have a gigantic web of interests and activities built, but it is so large and fragile that any attempt to move on it will cause the strands to tear away.

Eschewing ambiguity allows one to make a clear decision.  Sure, it may be the wrong one or you may decide to change your mind.  But clarity was created, a direction taken, and motion ensued.  And progress will only come with motion.

An example:  I have futzed (technical term) with the idea of learning Japanese for 30 years or more, but have never actually made the commitment - eschewed ambiguity - that I am going to do it instead of learning another language.  I somehow have always justified it by "I can do lots of things" or "I am taking a break".  But the reality is that neither of these actually means that I have the clarity I need.  The clarity I need comes from simply deciding "I am going to learn Japanese" or "I am going to give up learning Japanese" and going from there.

Another example:  My garden has been a bit of a wreck for a while - but by my own declaration (Ichiryo Gusoku - see the description under "Pages") I am supposed to doing more towards self-sufficiency, not less.  So I have to make a decision - Is this a goal, or is it not? (The answer was "yes", which saw me out this weekend taking stock.

Yes, it will means that ultimately I "do" less things.  But it also means (or I think that it means) that I will make more progress in the things that I am doing and will allow me to direct resources and time the way they should be directed, based on the clear decisions and goals I have made.

Or, to quote that philosophical genius Yoda,  "Do, or do not.  There is no try."

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