Depending upon the accent or inflection, the phrase can take on differing meanings. If stated in a monosyllabic intonation, it can be a quiet declaration that the entirety of life is comprised of multiple puzzles in an inert, non-participatory manner. The other way of “saying it”, is to pause between the two words in dramatic form, or even put a question mark at the end of the phrase, making the second word into an active verb and the noun of “Life” into a projectile that deliberately confounds and obfuscates. In either form, we all recognize the truth underlying the sentiment: from birth to the continuum of living daily the encounters and challenges, it is always a constant struggle to try and maintain a semblance of rationality in a universe that continually creates flux and mayhem. That was the philosophical strain that was always taught between the contrasting foundations of Parmenides and Heraclitus; of the wholeness and unity of Being as opposed to the constant flux and change that the world imposes. Life puzzles us in so many ways, and the life puzzles that confront us daily confound and confuse. See the subtle difference between the two ways of using the phrase? In the first, it is in an “active” form, invoked as a verb (transitive or intransitive), whereas in the second, it is used as a noun. We can get caught up in the grammatical form and usage of words, and in the process, get lost in the theoretical issues surrounding words, concepts and thought-constructs surrounding so many endless and peripheral issues; but the point of recognizing such subtle differences in the language we use is precisely to avoid and deconstruct the confusions we create within the language we use and misuse. In either form of usage, it is important to state clearly how and for what purpose we are engaging in a formulation of words, thoughts, concepts and narrations. We all carry narratives within ourselves that we must be ready, willing and able to use in order to describe, explain and delineate. Those subtle differences that words create must always be untangled. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the importance of being able to distinguish between subtle forms of language usage cannot be over-emphasized. For, Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is in and of itself a life puzzle that puzzles even the clearest of puzzling lifetimes; it is, moreover, a legal conundrum and a language puzzle that must be carefully reviewed, discerned, untangled and responded to by first recognizing that life does indeed involve puzzles, and such life puzzles must be approached in a non-puzzling way.
Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire