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Ambiguity

When I look at this image, I see one thing and one thing only: ambiguity.

The way her hair is positioned would seem to indicate that she’s facing left, but the slope of her shoulders and the arc of her back would seem to indicate that she’s facing right.

The visual cues that usually allow us to effortlessly determine which way a person is facing are in complete contradiction.

And now that I’ve driven myself insane trying to figure out which way she’s facing based on her hair and her shoulders and her back, there’s the matter of what the green/blue sash is telling us. Or if it’s even supposed to be telling us anything at all.

Is she facing right and the sash is covering her eyes? Is that some kind of metaphor? Or is she facing left and the sash is cradling the back of her head? And is that supposed to be a metaphor? Is there even a metaphor present at all? Is the sash nothing more than a prop to make it even more difficult for us to tell which way she’s facing?

Just when I think I have it figured out, just when I’m absolutely certain that I know she’s facing left, my brain tells me that I’m wrong and she’s actually facing right.

This cycle of overthinking is rooted in ambiguity, which is one of the most maddening things about the experience of being alive.

And if there’s one thing I know about human beings in, it’s that we harbor a special brand of disdain for ambiguity.

The idea that something could be unknown or indefinable or unclear doesn’t sit well with us. The thought that we could go our entire lives without knowing or understanding something is a difficult reality to accept.

But much like life itself, which way she’s facing in this image isn’t really the point.

The point is that life is often more ambiguous than anything else. And instead of trying to figure life out, instead of driving ourselves insane rebelling against the ambiguity of life, sometimes it’s better to just accept it. Sometimes it’s better to let go and accept the fact that more often than not, so much of life is unknown and grey and infuriating and out of our control. Sometimes it’s better to accept the fact that life doesn’t care whether or not we understand or how we feel about ambiguity.

And I think that accepting these things is one of our biggest challenges as human beings. We spend so much time trying to untangle the ambiguity of life that we’re unable to simply enjoy what’s in front of us. That we can end up destroying ourselves because it seems preferable to the alternative of having to coexist with ambiguity.

With that in mind, now that I’ve spent roughly 500 words trying to figure out which way she’s facing, I’m going to try simply enjoying the image.