The Ambiguity of Clarity (The Metaphysics of Taking Out the Garbage)


Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck.  ~Immanuel Kant

“Let me be clear,” someone will say as they proceed to dole out specific instructions, demands, or an account regarding what happened, or what will happen.   Chances are, many of you will forget everything said after those first four words.

“Why didn’t you take out the trash?” I asked my husband as I toted the trash out to the bin for the ten hundredth time.   “I asked three times and you said you would,” I muttered resentfully.

After all I’m tired too!  I worked today, and have slightly more to do each morning than simply put my wallet in my back pocket and go. Did I feed the cats?  Are all the beds made?  Is the house cleaning itself as much as it can before I walk out, that is are the dishwasher and washer and dryer all going?  Did I check the back pack?  Is homework done?  Are notes from teachers replied to?  Is snack packed?  Did I write the lunch money check so my child won’t have vegetables only for the third day in a row?  Did I gather  all my necessary work supplies, cell phone (is it charged I pray?), IPODS, car charger cord?  Did I grab the grocery list of staples to cram in after work, but before my son gets off the bus?  And as I slam the locked door, and look down at my arms full of supplies, child, and breakfast on the run, I prayerfully beg God that once again, I made it out alive without forgetting the car keys and grateful I have an automatic shut off on my curling iron.

“I got a phone call.  Joey told me his next door neighbor is going to jail,” my husband says, as if this is a legitimate excuse for forgetting the trash.  What?  Joey who?  And this so called Joey’s next door neighbor has exactly WHAT to do with our lives?    “You know Joey–my brother’s friend,” he replies.  Then he’ll just stand there and tell me all about his brother’s friend’s neighbor’s sins as I have now moved on from re-bagging the trashcan to emptying the dishwasher, feeding the cats, and pulling out a can of whatever it is I deem is dinner worthy.

The story will drag on.  My husband will continue standing  there repeating the second-hand drama of someone I didn’t even know existed when my trash first started cascading over the brim.

I get it.  He’s tired.  He finds this story interesting.  But frankly, well, I care about it as much as he wants to read what I write, or hear about the lives of my friends, or best of all, talk “relationship” talk.  That hobby died many moons ago, probably our early thirties is my best guess.

The point is this.  I was so crystal clear.  I packaged my request in as few words as I possibly am capable of:  PLEASE TAKE OUT THE TRASH.  I tried to speak cohesively, coherently, and effectively:  DID YOU TAKE OUT THE TRASH YET?  And one final attempt, as I race upstairs to transfer another load of wet washed clothes to the dryer, before remotes are powered on, and brains check out, “YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH ALREADY,  RIGHT?!?!”     Which part of my words were obscure or incomprehensible?

I race downstairs, after quickly folding a small basket of dry clothes, mentally choosing a dinner plan, eagerly hoping to get the family fed, kitchen cleaned, and spend a little quality time with our 6 year old son.   Then, hopefully if the planets of the universe line up exactly right, and all my chores are finished, maybe, just maybe, I can start on some writing before midnight.  One can hope, anyway.

In the grand scheme of marriage and of life, it’s not a big deal.  Deep down, I know this.  But on the surface of life, those repeating annoyances of everyday life, I’m sorry, but as Vice President Joe Biden would say, “it’s one BFD!” only for me, it’s not a blunder, but reality!  What is it about me I think that with pin point accuracy, often causes me to verbally hit the hubster’s aural blind spot?

Lest you think he’s a really terrible ogre, let me be clear; he’s not.  He’s worked over twenty five years, ten to twelve hour days bent over fixing cars so that our three kids were always able to do every sport, activity, group or team event they ever wanted to, send two of them to college, and every expense related to owning a home.  Now, nearing fifty, he goes to work enthusiastically each morning, knowing we still have at least a good twelve to sixteen years to go, counting college with our littlest one.  My husband took the brunt of the work load, so I could have the benefit of staying home when we could afford it, and working part time when we couldn’t.

In the department of selective hearing loss-impaired husbands, I take comfort in knowing I have a million moms as my sister wives.  I also know the problem is not me.    I state things clearly.  It’s just that men sometimes hear things ambiguously, another words, they hear things vaguely.  Their brain may process more than one interpretation.  Possibly, my husband thought I meant to take out the trash whenever he gets around to it, or one of these days, or just thought I was fleshing out an idea for a blog topic.

You see, marriage is built upon the foundation of The Uncertainty Principle.  Yes, it’s quantum physics, but trust me, you’ll clearly understand the dynamics here.  Basically, whenever the position of something is a known factor, it’s corresponding momentum becomes an unknown factor; and vice versa.  You see your spouse standing there.  You see the trash.  But will a movement occur here that will change the fundamental dynamics of your kitchen?  Or conversely, you see the trash can is now empty, but where in the world did my wife disappear to?

Yes, in marriage and in life, it’s about making our desires strategically clear.  Hopefully, there’s flexibility and forgiveness to see the big picture and enough faith to survive all that is ambiguous and uncertain from moments of inconvenience to disasters of epic proportions.  Clearly, you will have them, if you move or stand still long enough!

To teach how to live with uncertainty, yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy can do.  ~Bertrand Russell

Related Reading:  Transcendental Algebra and The Uncertainty Principle: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p08.htm

Also I have read (it’s easy and fun!)and LOVE this very colorfully illustrated book:

The Principles Of Uncertainty

http://workrepository.com/work_pages/maira_kalman/index.html

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4 thoughts on “The Ambiguity of Clarity (The Metaphysics of Taking Out the Garbage)

  1. I had to pause one moment after reading this, and decide whether to laugh or cry! Excellent blog post, Liz!

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