There is another term, ambiguity tolerance, that in the context in which I learned it refers to how well you handle broad instructions on an assignment. Do you prefer itemized rubrics asking for a personal essay that's five pages long, single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font, making sure to cover the points of your birth, most embarrassing moment, graduation from high school, and how good you are at sticking to a grocery list? Or do you prefer the looseness of being asked to write a personal essay, taking as long as necessary to fully explain your thoughts?
Or, outside of the classroom, does your heart feel at peace when you read:
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Or, how frustrated do you become with my blog?
My ambiguity tolerance in liberal arts and the kitchen is usually very high. For instance, my ideas for Halloween costumes this year have been: The Beatles' "Revolution #9," Light as a feather/Stiff as a board, or a constellation which was such a concrete idea it quickly transmuted into Outer Space. (Which, in reality, just looks like I'm wearing a giant navy blue mumu and trying to be a wizard.) However, situations that are typically classified as straightforward are highly foggy to me. Like biology and this goals/performance review worksheet I'm to do for work. I've an email here with a list of questions to help me come up with goals. "What career goals do you have? What sorts of training do you need to get there?" Within the confines of the job I'm at now, because they require temps to participate as well, these questions seem the height of ambiguity and therefore must each require three pages of conjecture. Instead, I have a spreadsheet to fill in. This is a part of business that confuses me. "Here, human, tell me your hopes and dreams but in a succinct enough matter that it will fit in these 4 merged spreadsheet cells but compelling enough that we promote you, give you health insurance, and treat you like a human being."
Have I been dropped in an unfamiliar sea? In a place where the sun casts its light so evenly there's no telling cardinal directions and what land awaits me who knows where? Never mind, New Sea, I don't worry, I can swim.
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
*from The Woman Who Laughed on Calgary by Heather McHugh
anyone lived in a pretty how town by e e cummings