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On Uncertainty

An Essay By Trevor Stone

February 1997, Junior Year, New Vista High School

Uncertainty is the way to go. Well, most of the time. Sometimes you should be certain, otherwise it's certain that you'll be uncertain. But most of the time, be uncertain.

Primarily, you should be uncertain as to what will happen. If you know what's going to happen next, it's not a surprise and its not exciting. If all of a sudden something totally unexpected happens, it's fun. For example, if I'm walking along a sidewalk over a hill and I suddenly decide to drop what I'm carrying and roll down the hill, that's both fun and a surprise to the person I was walking with. If I had decided to drive all the way across town to do it, it wouldn't have been as fun. It also would have lost its fun appeal to some extent if I did that every day.

Depressed people often want more action and excitement in their lives. So, suppose that tomorrow, everything flipped upside down and gravity worked the other way. It would be supremely exciting! You could do all sorts of things you never thought you could before. And even if you went about your daily life, you have probably never walked into your office and looked up at the floor as in an M.C. Escher drawing.

Humorists realize this fundamental fact of uncertainty. Probably the biggest thing in comedy is the unexpected. If you know the punch line before it comes, the joke isn't very funny. But if the punch line comes as an unexpected surprise, you howl and laugh until tears come to your knees. See, there's a good example. By as you read that last phrase, you thought I would use the normal phrase "until tears come to your eyes." But by changing it, you become uncertain about the next time I will do something like that and it makes the paper more exuberating.

For more evidence, look at the fool. (Notice, I didn't fprepfix it with a p like you thought I would!) A fool in today's society might be someone who doesn't have a job or a permanent house, but lives day to day, moment to moment, and doesn't need a day timer to figure it out. On a nice sunny day, the normal American has to sit in his office and long out the window. But the pfool can run around in the grass, go for a nice walk, and take the day off in the shade, not longing in the window. The key to this is uncertainty, not knowing what will happen. In a gunfight, the one who draws first loses because it's easier to react than to draw.

There once was a quite certain man
Who's name was quite like Dan.
He didn't know wh' to do
'Cause the sky was blue
Until he opened the curtain.

See, uncertainty helps to spice things up. But to the untrained eye, you look like a fpreak.

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