No exceptions to absolutes

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Commentary by Terry Anker

Sometimes, we have spring in February and winter in March. We humans tend to be a temporally methodical lot. We have rightly come to expect that morning follows the night just as warm weather ultimately replaces the cold – until the whole process starts anew.

So when things don’t roll out in the order we might like, it causes a bit of disruption. We angst about when and why. We gather and take note of the celestial exception. The television weather personalities command center stage hoping to calm our expectations and remind us of “seasonal averages” and the eventual coming of the thaw. Yet, aren’t they stating the obvious? Is there any among us who has made the trip around the sun a few times who hasn’t come to know the basics of meteorology? Why do we require the reminder and reassurance?

Certainly, life boasts its share of absolutes. Just as surely as we are born into this world, we will, one day hopefully very distant from now, leave it. With one noted exception 2,000 years ago or so, the rule applies to us, each and every. Yet, many of these inevitabilities arrive not on demand but on average. Our expectation in hoping for the pattern to prove itself can bring with it some anxiety. Like a watched pot, we wait, at once knowing water will boil with heat applied and still wondering until it does. Our experience is our guide, but we have evolved to rely upon our immediate senses as our first line of defense.

When the calendar says March but the thermometer still reads January, why do we struggle to reconcile between our expectation in the immediate term and our confidence over the long? Can we rely upon our experience to justly predict the future? Or, is each day an opportunity for exception?

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