Ambivalence Is Good
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.
Six weeks have passed since the vision of the man and the child. I know now that I misunderstood the message.
In my vision, the man sits alone in the chair, just his guitar for company. He’s lost in the chords. They’re beautiful and a little discordant and very wistful.
A small boy dances around him, trying to get the man to notice him, but the man is intent on not noticing him. He keeps his emotional distance from the boy, even though the boy trusts him completely and can read his mind. The words are much too big for the child to speak unless he’s channeling the man’s thoughts.
“He’s conflicted,” the boy tells me. “About you.”
I nod. I know. I understand.
The little boy and I talk. He just wants everyone to be happy. He’s adorable. (I modeled Benny in Dark Revelations after him when I first had visions of this boy.)
Then he says of the man, “He can’t make up his mind. He’s ambivalent.”
I nod. Ambivalent. How disappointing. To me, that was like saying “feeling nothing at all.”
While on a powerwalk with Shannon this week, I used the word ambivalent and scoffed at it. After all, I have a degree in English. I know things.
Shannon stopped mid-stride and looked at me. “You do know what ambivalent means, don’t you?”
“Of course, I do! Conflicted. So-so. Undecided. Wishy-washy. Waffling. Could go either way. Ho-hum. That’s how I think of the word, especially in the context I usually use it in. Doesn’t care.”
Then Shannon shook her head and explained why she loved her Latin III language classes so much. She went into great detail about the Latin origin of ambivalent.
“It doesn’t mean not having feelings,” she told me. “It means having very strong feelings in different directions. If you’re ambivalent, you can’t make up your mind not because you don’t have feelings but because you have very strong feelings.”
Oh. Okay. So…ambivalence may not be great, but it’s not bad either.