The newest in an ongoing series of Quotes I’ve collected. To see previous posts in the series, click here.
Sometimes – or perhaps oftentimes would be more accurate – there isn’t a big story behind quotes that make it into my book. This is one of those times.
It comes from my friend Peter. Y’know when you’re lucky enough to befriend someone who’s got a sharp insight and wit, and with whom you can have the most incredible conversations over the course of years? That’s Peter.
He’s also the best hugger. He’s a fair bit taller than I am, and sometimes I’ll put my ear against his chest and he’ll hum really deep so I can hear and feel the rumble.
And he’s the kind of person who sees things in his yard that he thinks I’d like to take photos of and mows around them until I can get there.
So yeah, Peter’s cool.
Anyway, this quote comes from a long time ago, so I unfortunately don’t remember the context. I wish I did, but also don’t need to for it to still stand up today. It goes:
Give me ambiguity, or give me something else.
I like it for a couple of reasons, both of them being about how it plays with words.
First there’s the “Huh?” factor, in the ambiguity/something else pairing. It’s that moment that makes your brain fuse while you try to process what’s just been said, followed by the rush of understanding that makes you laugh.
Second, there’s the play of the overall phrase against its better known cousin, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” That’s a very concrete either/or. Offsetting it with something as wishy-washy as ambiguity is, in my opinion, perfection.
The fact that I always hear it in my head in Peter’s voice is a fringe benefit.