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When We’re Wrong to Accept Ambiguity

In August I wrote a piece called “I Don’t Know.”  about how some people need to always give an answer, even when they clearly have no idea what they’re talking

man who has fallen off the front of a surfboard, two feet protruding upward on either side of the board, body submerged.

Some people hide from the truth, preferring a murky and unsustainable existence while missing the great experiences and view in front of them.

about. Today I address the flip side of that to talk about how some people lock ambiguity in a bear hug and hold on to it for dear life.

They engage in a Gregorian chant of “I don’t know. They claim a need for irrefutable proof in order to accept the truth. They call this certainty, or even closure. For instance, when a terrible event like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center leaves no reason to believe there are any additional survivors, some family members insisted Herculean efforts be made to find and identify the remains before they would accept that their loved one had died. It is the same with widespread natural disasters, horrific plane crashes, fires, or a building collapse.

Insisting on irrefutable truth gives us the excuse to stay stuck where we are in our grief and pain and anger. We hold on to a shred of imagined uncertainty so that we do not have to move forward. We close the door to what is and stay mired in what was. Continue reading

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