Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Team Ambiguity: Let's Talk About Conception.

Photo Credit: MorgueFile by Jus Ben

I have been struggling for days to figure out what I want to write for my Team Ambiguity post. Well, in truth, I have been school clothes shopping, gardening, planning home school curriculum, book writing and occasionally letting my mind and internet searches wander into Team Ambiguity Land, so perhaps my problem is actually lack of focus. Anyway, whatever the reason, the result is that I have come up with nothing that fits well into a that particular format. The format I conceived–which I really, really like– is that I find an article which takes a shallow cut at what could be a really provocative and interesting conversation. And then we–Team Ambiguity– "examine the body," so to speak. All of us, through blogging and comments, say what there really is to say about that topic, free of the constraints of black-and-white, right-and-wrong, this-or-that. We have had some truly epic conversations this way. It has been, hands down, my favorite thing about blogging so far.

But I have a problem. Clearly not everything can be discussed this way. You all sent me some great ideas for discussion on my Facebook page, none of which I could figure out how to make into a Team Ambiguity post. I see the need for another format. What do we use when we just want to run into the internet cafe, set something on the table and say "Discuss"? What if we think it's fabulous just as it is and we want to talk more about it? I need a gimmick for that.

Well, today, we're going to try it. I want to talk about conception.

Get your minds out of the gutter. What I want to talk about is the "conception" that is synonymous with "understanding" or "idea." Come into my Conception Cafe, grab a latte or an herbal tea. We're going to chat. (I think I need help coming up with a new name for this cafe. People may look askance at out t-shirts otherwise. Please send suggestions.)

What I am interested in–what has me all tangled up in thought knots, chewing on my fists–is the way in which we conceive of the world and one another. Do you think the double meaning of the word is accidental? If I understand you in this way and not that way, I have given origin or cause to you in my understanding. I'm sorry if you are just waking up and now you have a headache. I can help.

Go read this. Really, right now. You won't be sorry.

Back now? So, my question is: What do you have to say? I look at Glennon's conversation inside what I am talking about–conception—and I am struck by my own laziness, the unlikeliness that I would ever speak to a stranger on a plane, the patience that it takes to see a conversation like that through, and the profound joy I have felt when I have done it. Conception. Understanding, idea. Conception. To give cause or origin to.

But before you say anything about that, read this. It's also worth your while. Not long. Well-written. Et cetera. Mind. Blowing. (Thanks, Kelly, for suggesting it.)

O.K. Now, let's hash this out. What is it about Russel Kirsch's conception of the world versus...oh, say, mine that allows him such innovation? What is the physical universe to him? What are numbers? What are roadblocks? What is self? He and I have such a fundamentally different understanding of the nature of reality and how reality interacts with humanity that I can mostly only stand in awe, mouth agape. Have I ever invented anything that was new? Innovated anything? Really?

I have learned some new things reading these blog posts.

  1. Talk to strangers.
  2. Stay humble.
  3. Listen. 
But forget that. What do you all think? Talk it up. Post your comments, links, thoughts, diatribes, or cartoon drawings and start a conversation. It's all about conception, baby.


  1. This reminds me of the lecturer we watched who spoke about creativity and how current educational methods discourage it. Perhaps we are born with an innate ability to conceive of almost anything only to find, as grown ups, that what we conceive of is mainly determined by our group identities.

    I cannot conceive of having a conversation with a disgruntled conservation who makes sweeping generalizations that are different from my sweeping generalizations. I'm pretty sure I would have abandoned my book and pretended to be asleep.

    1. I have a really hard time talking to strangers, too, as you well know. Being a pretty introverted person, I do require a good deal of time and space to myself and I often try to take it in public when social interaction isn't REQUIRED of me. I wouldn't want to change that entirely. I'm not trying to be an extrovert.

      I was just struck by some of the opportunities I am missing. I might try and poke my head out a bit more.

  2. Clearly I mean conservative, not conservation.

  3. I talk to everyone. It makes my husband--a nice guy who looks at outings as opportunities to go someplace, talk to the people you went with or went to see, and then go home--a little batty. The thing that most interests me in this world are people. Their ideas, their pain, their joy. Their perspectives. Fascinating, invigorating, wonderful stuff. And the single goal I usually have when talking to anyone is to find the connection. There is pretty much always something. I'm a connection seeker. No wait. I'm a connection junkie.

    Now the "do what's never been done" guy? Wow. Just serious wow.

    1. yep, I talk to anyone and everyone, who will give me the time. I think it drives Tara nuts. I'm curious about people's religious and political views. What languages do they speak? Do they laugh at inappropriate jokes? My favorite people to talk to though, are the ones who disagree with me on almost everything, but their conclusions are well reasoned. I'm always looking for someone to change my mind about something, and to change someone else's mind about something. I love the free flow of ideas and information, the challenge to my perspective and the ability to have a really interesting conversation with someone who has arrived a totally different conclusions that I have.

      The other guy, kind of reminds me of my 7 year old, when he is in the kitchen adding things together to make a "potion." The only real difference is that the computer guy had a basic scientific understanding of computer logic and my 7 year old doesn't yet understand chemistry...but just wait, cause some day, he'll make a crazy cool potion!

    2. I can so imagine this about you, Beth, given who you are in the blogging world. :) I have a best friend like that. She just connects with everyone everywhere she goes. And, of course, Mike.

      What intrigues me in this first conversation is not just THAT she was willing to speak to him but how far she was willing to go in service of his humanity. It speaks to a commitment so much larger than being right. I am blessed to say I have had a few conversations as magical as that one, but never in that kind of setting, with a stranger who wasn't there to go any further himself than getting mad.

      The world is just an interesting, abundant place, full of human stories...

  4. This morning I was thinking about this post and the guy in the cafe. Somehow that reminded me of the time my sister and I tried to train our cats to perform in a circus. We dressed the two of them up in doll clothes and tried to make them do flips off of chairs and walk on a tight rope.

    Epic failure! But I didn't use an iPad while trying, that's for sure!

    1. The biggest thing I am working toward in home schooling our youngest really is that willingness to try and fail that is creativity, not at all confined to the arts. It' so fun to do with a child so young because who they can be still seems so open. Truthfully, though, I guess it's much more open for all of us, really, than we can wrap our heads around.

  5. I have to admit that I have I hard time talking to just anyone. Polite chatting doesn't come easily to me. But I do know that I am a much better listener than talker, and because of that, I have been mistaken for an excellent conversationalist.

    But being humble? I'm not sure that I follow you there. Or maybe because it's we have a different view/definition of what humility is?

    1. Thanks for making me clarify what I mean, Tim. :)It's always a worthwhile effort to be clear. In terms of humility, I was struck by the fact that, especially in the first conversation on the airplane, it would have been so easy to come from a place of argument rather than listening. Glennon obviously communicated her own view points (or,really, her own commitments) but she wasn't trying to win some sort of blow-by-blow beat-down, scored by who has the best case. Mostly, I think that we either know how to do THAT or we assiduously avoid these topics altogether. I think really LISTENING requires humility and is very hard to do. To me, relational humility is being able to see oneself "right-sized", neither larger nor smaller than another person, remembering that we don't have the answers and being interested in another person's point of view.

      In the second case, Joel (the blogger) really said it better himself, so I'll just link his follow-up here:

      Welcome to FIA! I really appreciate your commenting and adding to the conversation.

  6. I'm late, again.
    I loved both of those stories. The first one completely relates to some issues I've been thinking about lately. That of being more accepting of people and seeing them as valuable and important, no matter their situation, or even the way they've treated me in the past. To sit and listen to someone does take humility, and selflessness. It's hard and something I'm still working on.

    The second? Wow. I would've thought, "Yeah, whatever Al Gore." and ignored him. See? I need to work on that listening thing.

    As for what you invent, Tara, your writing is your invention. That's how I feel about mine, anyway. I may not be able to create anything technological, but I can make worlds with my words.

  7. I'm also struggling with focus! However, communication is something I take very seriously. I find I'm a great listener but these days, I am a busy one so I listen probably faster than what I should...if that makes any sense.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I struggle to bring that quality of timeless savor to my conversations. I am always shoving them because I have a deadline to meet. It's not bad, but I wonder what might happen if I ever felt I really had the time?

  8. I have often been "accused" of being willing to talk to a fence post. I've struck up conversations with random strangers in more places than I can count. I've made a few friendships that way, but mostly, it's a nice way to pass the time, or to learn something about something, or share something about something.

    I have been Glennon on a plane, though not as graceful. She's pretty awesome.

    As for Joel and Russell, holy wow, Batman.

    I am striving for more listening power lately. More open mindedness, more real listening, instead of just hearing and preparing my response. I am still learning. Somehow, I thought I'd have all this shit figured out by now.

    1. I don't think I even began to consider that kind of listening you are talking about, Margi, until the second half of my thirties. Not REALLY. I was too blinded by my own invariably strong point of view. I sometimes wonder what I could see if I could shake it loose for an hour -- that viewpoint? It's like a napping turtle that won't let go of me. I behave as if were I to to just forgot it, I wouldn't be myself anymore. But I wonder how much MORE myself I'd be if I had to be convinced of all those sundry viewpoints all over again, from scratch? A tabula rasa, with nothing but my values and commitments left behind? Wouldn't it be exciting to converse from THAT place?


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