It’s funny how we inhabit two worlds simultaneously; one that is real, tangible and where ‘A is A’, and the other that is essentially an overlap, crowded by our myriad assumptions about the objects of the real world. People, intentions, books, movies, places, relationships, emotions; nothing is spared from the realm of assumptions.
I am no exception and often assume who is worth letting into my life, and who would be merely excess baggage to lug around. Despite being a insatiable reader, I still harbour prejudices about the readability of a book if they belong to certain genres, or the section of the readers they appeal to. I do it without even flipping open a single page. The same goes for travel choices; often I assume that certain places have nothing worthwhile to offer apart from the usual touristy stuff. I make assumptions about relationships (often equating superficial variables like time spent together, number of conversations to the amount of care; even when I talk only once a month to my closest friends), about emotions (I am/was in love with a boy I met a couple of years ago and had known for just a month, and it was initiated on the assumption that he liked me too. stupid), and even about everyday conversations (what did she mean by that? should I read between the lines?). It is human nature to create our own versions of everything we see, feel and hear; blending with, and sometimes even overpowering the truth. Sometimes I feel guilty about jumping to conclusions without bothering to verify facts, but usually I brush it off as it doesn’t affect me in a direct and immediate manner.
But it is troubling to be on the receiving end of such assumptions. I have a close friend from my junior college days who had suddenly started giving me the cold shoulder. I assumed she was busy and didn’t disturb her with frequent calls and texts. But when it persisted, I confronted her only to be told that she had assumed I was the one avoiding her! Now we are the back to our giggles and gossips, but I shudder to think that a mere assumption might have destroyed a decade old friendship. My sister is home for her summer training and I was bursting with joyous anticipation about all the places we would visit and all the conversations we would have. But she came home, slumped down on her bed, barely talked to me, and didn’t leave the house often. I assumed she was tired, while she assumed that I had cancelled her offer to study abroad due to trivial reasons and harboured a silent grudge. And this would have continued had I not asked her directly about what is bothering her.
It is surprising how often we let assumptions colour our lives. The Anne Tyler books that I have been reading makes me want to tear out my hair in utter despair, what with all those people drifting apart due to mere assumptions and unsaid words. Children drift away from parents, lovers and spouses drift away from each other, and friends separate too. It is such a waste, yet it is happening all around us. This is one mistake that no one ever learns from.
I guess we would do ourselves a favour if we talk it out instead of sprouting assumptions. But that’s tiring too, isn’t it? Sigh!