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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Someone said something recently that struck me as so funny that I’ve been trying to figure out how to work it into a blog ever since. And since it hasn’t gotten any more interesting in the past month or so, I figured I’d just get it out there and move on.

It happened during the course of the conference that Ralph and I attended, the one you may remember from a recent blog post where I had a fourth-grade-level gigglefest over a Portuguese-accented instructor who kept telling us to fuckus on what was important.

This isn’t that level of funny, but it stuck with me anyway.

During one talk about visual learning, the instructor asked a question. She said, “If you were a postcard, what would it depict?”

The activity was to spend a few minutes mentally designing your postcard and then, if you chose, to share it with the group.

People in the chat were all excited about this exercise because who wouldn’t be, I mean you get to talk about yourself and display your identity with proud peacock feathers.

Says the person with a blog where I talk about myself in thousands of words daily.

Pot. Kettle.

But I was not feeling the postcard exercise because I am not a visual thinker.

I am that person who, when presented with an object and asked to find a picture of that object if it were rotated 90 degrees clockwise, can never do it.

I can’t even follow the heads up display on my GPS. If the narrator voice says “in 100 feet turn left” I’m good. But if there is a picture of four lanes with a big orange arrow pointing to one, I will stare at it without a clue.

So yeah, postcard thing was not for me. But I got the concept. And lots of people played along.

Some people said I would be playing a piano. Or I would be outside in a natural habitat. Or I’d be on a mountain riding a horse.

Or a collage of colorful abstractions or a glass of wine or a meandering journey. Or my favorite… a picture of a chocolate covered brain.

But not Gladys, whose name is not Gladys, but I am not that terrible of a human being, so I will not identify her by name.

Gladys interjected halfway through this chat where everyone was gleefully imagining themselves as bright, starry constellations or bejeweled princesses on motorcycles, and quite succinctly said…

I’m not a postcard.

That’s it. No explanation. No embellishment.

I don’t know if she was joking or if her brain is even less visually inclined than mine, but it was so ridiculous that it was funny.

I mean, I COULD be a postcard, if I really tried. Maybe one with a big NO slash through a picture of a heads up display.

But not Gladys.

I honestly could not concentrate on the rest of the talk because I was too absorbed in thinking about Gladys and making up stories about her lack of imagination.

It was almost as distracting as being told to fuckus on the table.

The only other thing Gladys interjected, and I know this because instead of listening to the talk I was scanning the chat room for her next words of wisdom, happened when the instructor was discussing something about holding two opposing ideas in your head.

Gladys didn’t think it was a good idea to hold two opposing ideas in your head. She informed us that science calls this cognitive dissonance.

DING! It’s what happens when you think someone is stupid and unimaginative and then immediately remind yourself that you don’t know anything about this person except for one sentence and they are probably a genius, just not a visual thinker. Quite possibly both.

Gladys was less entertaining after that, but she did throw her 18 cents in here and there because clearly the idea of opposing ideas got under her skin.

She admonished that having two opposing ideas was not good when it comes to objective truth.

My opinion inched toward stupid because the word truth sounded a little like a dog whistle. Science doesn’t deal in truth, it deals in facts or not facts, things that can be proven and things that cannot.

Science knows that you’re going to see a blue and black dress and I’m going to see a white and gold one, but objectively speaking (and sadly for me), it is blue and black.

I mean, I still think you’re crazy and wrong, but science does not have my back on that.

Over the course of 10 minutes (which is a pretty big chunk of a 45 minute lesson, Gladys made no fewer than seven comments opposed to this idea of having two opposing views.

Her parting salvo was that you can think both might be true, but when you become sure of one you must let go of the other.

Oh, black and white people.

Obviously this got under MY skin considering I’m still thinking about it several weeks and this many words later. I guess I felt like she was proselytizing and didn’t contribute anything to the conversation. Nobody engaged with her. I considered that she might just be trolling.

I wasn’t sure what the word of the day would be until it just fell out of this story right now. It’s literal. And it’s about people who are it, to a fault.

It’s like when I ask Ralph what are you doing? because clearly I have noticed something interesting and he says something like sitting in a chair.

Like, ok, I CAN SEE THAT.

He doesn’t say it with any snark or intent to annoy. He will – literally, after being literal – just continue doing what he’s doing until I ask a more specific question like what are you doing WITH THAT CAN OF PAINT AND THUMBTACK IN YOUR HAND?

But then he will just say “holding it” and really I don’t have the mental computational ability to deal with too much of that.

He can, however, rotate any object in his brain to any degree angle, and never miss a turn if the heads up display tells him to make it.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got tonight. I bet you’re not a postcard either, but you’re probably pretty smart anyway, even if you think two opposing things.

Photo: a giant NO on visual GPS.