I’ve been talking, dreaming, writing and thinking in metaphors. It’s my thing these days – giving in to the urge to extract symbolic meaning from all of the weird experiences and situations I’ve found myself in lately.
Call it the plight of a writer (if I can even call myself that), or the curse of a millennial wanderlust turned office worker with too much time and too many options on her plate.
On the best of days, I get all wide-eyed and curious. What is this lovely, mysterious universe trying to tell me? Or, on days like today, I pull my hair, grit my teeth and do whatever I can to keep myself from pointing my head skyward and shouting: What in the actual FUCK?!
Because no matter how politely or ferociously I ask, the universe shrugs her shoulders and purses her lips in secrecy. It’s up to me to figure her out, which, unsurprisingly, is no easy feat. The more I try to deconstruct meaning, the more life oozes of possibilities.
Oh, ambiguity. It’s long been one my favorite words. I like the way it sounds when it’s articulated aloud – those five syllables packed into a relatively short word, the series of soft vowel sounds disrupted by hard, forceful consonants.
The anatomy of the word can be a metaphor itself. So much happens in our short lives. Things around us get loud sometimes. Yet despite the metamorphic events and disasters that punctuate the span of our existence, life is full of a soft-spoken grace and sweetness we can learn much from if we are still and quiet enough to take notice.
But it is not, of course, the composition of the word that I love most about it, but rather the meaning and etymology of it.
Oxford Dictionaries defines ambiguity as, “the quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness”. It stems from the Latin word ambiguus meaning ‘doubtful’, which I have always been even from a young age. Don’t read me wrong. I can be doggedly chipper at times; however, I have never been one to accept anything at face value. To my occasional dismay, I am and always will be an indecisive questioner.
By nature, I am an ambiguous person. The makeup of my genes and the physical manifestation of these genes have left me open to interpretation. I look neither quite this, nor quite that. Brown hair, brown eyes, brown skin, brown everything. It is the color of most of the people on this planet and thus calls little attention to itself worldwide. I can blend in here in New Zealand just easily as I can be mistaken for a local in rural Thailand.
My idea of “home” is becoming more and more inexact insomuch that I can no longer write the word “home” without sandwiching it in between quotation marks. I feel literally pulled to all corners of this world these days. I loathe the idea of repatriating back to America almost as much as I love it and feel it necessary. My ambivalence towards my life in Wellington and New Zealand mounts weekly, if not daily. I hear the voices of the big, beautiful family I hardily know, and who hardily know me, calling from Vietnam. Meanwhile, I’d very much like to trade all of these options in for the most delicious, and terrifying, form of ambiguity of all: an open ticket to somewhere new.
Meanwhile, love for myself and for other people has never felt more fluid and undefined.
Gilda Radner called it “delicious ambiguity”. These two words marry so perfectly together that they make me feel like all the shades of grey in my life are something to be savored rather than suffered through. But the undeniable truth is that during the coldest, darkest moments of the night, there’s nothing appetizing about it. Ambiguity is disconcerting, uncomfortable and, quite frankly, tastes like shit.
Luckily for me, on my recent hunt for metaphors, I’ve found an anecdote to my current predicament from the wise and wild yogi Ana Forest: Shit can be turned into fertilizer.
If I was as bold as Ana is, I would tattoo this phrase onto my wrist, or better yet, scribble it on my bedroom ceiling in glow paint so every time I woke at 4am in a nervous sweat, these words would shine down on me like my own personal god.
I can’t really complain about the circumstances I find myself in. While my physical appearance is something I cannot control, the way I look has afforded me much more than it has excluded me from. Apart from this, the people I choose to love and let go, the jobs I take and leave, and all the stamps in my passport have been my decision. I have made my bed. It is a grey bed with lots of space for metaphors and interpretations and I am getting more comfortable with cuddling up under those covers.
And all that shit I’m dealing with? Well gosh. I reckon I’m half way to self-sufficiency with my very own right and proper vegetable patch in the making.