Turning Assumptions into Understandings

My mom used to say things like, “A watched pot never boils.” Little did I realize then that what she said and what she meant required me to make some assumptions.

Our verbal and written language occasionally fails to communicate my  intended meaning. Yet pertinent information might remain hidden from reason. When left out of the vital communication link, these precious truths are replaced with assumption that becomes the basis for subsequent assumptions.

To make an assumption, I engage my imagination to fill in the dots.  I must come up with facts not in evidence to make a thought complete. I  assume an understanding to force clarity from ambiguity.

I may make some assumptions about my mother’s saying that provides me with a plethora of answers without me having to ask –

  1. A pot of what exactly? (I assume liquid like water)
  2. Does it matter who watches the pot? (I assume it doesn’t)
  3. How much time specifically is “never”? (I assume a longer time than were I to not watch)
  4. Will the pot boil if I stop watching it? (I assume yes)
  5. Why would I want to boil a pot? (I assume it refers to the content of the pot rather than to the pot itself)
  6. Why would I think that watching a pot would cause it to boil? (I assume we’re talking about applying a sufficient heat source to a pot of liquid)
  7. Does the saying have a figurative meaning? (I assume literal because it’s easier on my gray cells)
  8. If figurative, what is the meaning? (I assume I know)
  9. Are we referring to a literal and/or figurative meaning? (I assume I know the difference and which we are employing now)

Assumptions are essentially expectations I no longer question or examine. For the sake of expediency, simplicity, rightness, and etc., I’ve assigned through assumptions cause and effect relationships that serve as justifications for why the world is as I believe it is.

Questioning my assumptions, I more clearly see the underlying needs they hide. There may be value in examining assumptions when my mind is quiet and I feel open to what may happen as a result of that examination.

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