Friday, April 5, 2013

Possibly vs. Definitely

Okay I lied, this isn't going to be fun exactly. But wait! I promise it won't be traumatic or angst ridden. This is simply a funny observation I had this morning that I thought I would share.

This morning I woke up feeling kind of blah. Yesterday I'd felt my lip getting a bit numb but hoped it was just one of those freakish things that would go away. Alas it didn't, and I came to realize this morning, the day before our Special Assembly Day, that I had a cold sore forming. I'll spare details except to say it wasn't going to be one of those cute dainty ones that likes to hide inside your mouth where no one can really see it. Oh no, front and center, top lip. So I did like any 30-year old woman would do. I ran to my mother. Naturally she had something for that and went to her room to get it. She brought out a small tube of topical Lysine.

We were discussing what had caused the cold sore and at some point she said that my system was out of whack. I said that was a possibility. She immediately contradicted me and said that no my system was "definitely" out of whack. Y'know, in that tone which indicates this is an absolute and can not be argued with. We then proceeded to have a brief exchange that consisted entirely of non-verbal communication. The gist of it was this:

Me: *crossed arms and shifty eyes* Translation: Yeah whatever, it could totally be like 5 or 6 other things that went through my head.

Mom: *deep sigh* Translation: Ugh I've annoyed her again though I have no idea how. But I'm totally absolutely and without any possible dispute correct in what I've said. Maybe I should launch into an explanation of why I'm correct about how crappily (Yes this is a real word, it is a verb which means "to care for oneself in a crappy manner.) she takes care of herself.

Me: *shakes my head and nods at the same time towards the tube of Lysine* Translation: Never mind you're right about everything let's just carry on and tell me what to do with the stupid tube of Lysine.

Mom: So what you do with the tube of Lysine is....*launches into demonstration*

The End.

Mom and I have many things in common, but some things we're just polar opposites on. There's something about how we're wired to think, that is just completely contradictory. And I think at least one huge aspect of our differences can be summed up this way: Possibly vs. Definitely.

I am much more comfortable in the land of shades of grey and colors than I am in the land of black and white. When she said my system could be out of whack I immediately thought of a variety of additional reasons and filed my system being out of whack in among the possible candidates. And bristled at my mother's certainty that this one and only cause was the definite culprit.

Is this to say I never see things as she does? Or never believe in something absolutely? No of course not. But it should be a testament to how deeply I believe something that I believe in it definitely.

So what about you guys? How do you prefer to see the world? In possibilities or in definitives?

*Footnote: I am not a mind reader and I feel compelled to point out I can only vouch for my portion of the non-verbal conversation. My translation is based on 30 years of experience knowing her but could be flawed nonetheless.


  1. Thanks for this post. I found it entertaining, and it raises an interesting question. At the moment, I can't think of anyone that I know personally whom has a very "definitely" point of view. I think I tend more towards a "possibly" mind set myself.

    Recently, though, in following some threads on a web forum about gaming, it was interesting to see some people positing that their particular style or approach to running tabletop roleplaying games (GMing) was intrinsically and definitely better than the styles and approaches used by other game masters. Just from that limited experience I observed that most people found their manner insulting, and that - in conversation at least - it is generally better to present your ideas as possibilities rather than definite, even if your mind is quite made up on the subject.

    1. Thank you for your response! I have no idea how I missed this, but better late than never, right?

      That's interesting what you observed. I think, at least with my Mom, that there's an element of being judgmental involved. And whether it's deserved or not, it gives the impression that the person is close-minded which can be extremely frustrating to someone who is interested in having an open conversation.

      I run into something similar playing MMO's. Someone in general chat will ask about the best class type, or the best skill tree and there are some people who will belligerently claim that one is best.

      I actually experienced this in my guild, one member was insisting that Bounty Hunters were the best because of their ability to yield high damage and heal themselves. But Bounty Hunters are hardly the only ones who can multitask in this way, not to mention he was completely missing the importance of what the player individually brings to the game play. An inexperienced player might have a Bounty hunter but not be able to play him to his full potential, or a really experienced player could be playing any other class and take on a Bounty hunter just fine. For the record I managed to beat his highest Bounty Hunter with both of my Jedi class characters. But it took the longest time for him to admit that this was purely his opinion rather than being the reality of the situation. He just didn't want to admit that there were other possibilities for what was the best.