“Isn’t it obvious?”
My typical response to this question, which is asked more frequently that I’d like to admit is, “Ummmm no, that’s kind of why I’m asking you, it’s not so obvious to me!” Confusion is written all over the face of the person looking back at me, I see them wondering how on earth I’m confused about something that seems to be as clear as day to them. “I don’t get how YOU don’t get that I don’t get it,” I respond. Things (actually I) start to get a bit snappy. The conversation moves AWAY from helping me understand “the obvious” and now focuses on my unawareness of the obvious.
Is obviousness like common sense, a not so common thing? What’s apparent to you might not be apparent to me. Could it be that I don’t want to see what’s before my eyes? Perhaps I find comfort in avoiding the obvious truth? Maybe I don’t worry about the small details because I’m on autopilot mode and don’t give too much thought to what’s around me unless I need to. Is this blindness selective? I become a master of obviousness only if the subject matter interests me, otherwise who really cares? Is obviousness trained; do we mirror the behaviors of our peers? Do we say that we don’t see the obvious in order so that someone vocalizes “the obvious” and confirm our suspicion of what “the obvious” is? “It’s obvious that you should be the presenter because you’re good at it.” Wait, what? It’s not obvious to me! Good presenter, are you kidding? I’m sweating bullets up there, shaking inside! Isn’t that obvious?!
Now that I’m wondering about all this not so obvious obviousness my thoughts lead me to the famous Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus book. The book is filled with examples that the obvious is not so obvious depending on our genders. “It’s obvious he’s not that into you, it’s obvious he’s really interested, it’s obvious, it’s obvious, and it’s obvious.” I’ve been there, surrounded by my girlfriends, sipping coffee or wine – depending on how sticky the situation may be, going over EVERY detail, because I mean they really do make a difference in the big picture of obviousness. The next day I may see a male friend, ask for his input, and immediately discover that “his obvious” is the exact opposite of the “obvious” my girlfriends and I came up with. He’ll cut through all the “bologna details” and give me his “matter of fact obvious response.” I think about the questionnaire my fiancé and I completed at our marriage preparation course. I overheard a couple saying “obviously this is a shared responsibility, this one is an obvious no, this one is an obvious yes” which was followed by the other partner responding, “oh really.” I guess they weren’t on the same side of this “obviousness shenanigan.”
My stepdaughter, who is preparing to take a college admission exam, has shown me questions where the correct answer isn’t included in the list of multiple choice responses because they want students to pick the next “obvious answer.” Yea, that’s just FANTASTIC! We better hope and pray the students are using the same lens of obviousness the exam writers were wearing when they selected the multiple choice options.“Ma’am, it’s obvious your child has a behavior problem,” Wait, you’re kidding right!?!? “It’s obvious you’re hurting him with your actions, it’s obvious you pushed her away.” “Honey, isn’t it obvious that when I asked for this I wanted this & that.” The list goes on of the many conversations we’ve probably had where people are not picking up on the “obvious.”
As my fiancé loves to say, if you ask x amount of people 99% would say XYZ is the obvious choice. I haven’t done research on this – probably never will – but I don’t think that the obvious is so obvious unless it’s spelled out in black and white. We need the light bulb to turn on, see someone do it, read about it, experience it, or be led by a curious mind to observe all the obviousness that there is in the obvious.