Originating from mathematics, the concept of extrapolation works well within numerical or statistical restrictions, because the inherent precision constrained by present trends versus application to unknown quantities, poses a self-correcting device not otherwise discovered with linguistic flexibility.
But what of a person’s life? Most descriptions possess mere “slice of life” indicators. An employment application; information gathered on a background check; security clearances obtained; personal financial statements; a family discussion about an incident which involved a relative; these are all moments in time, partial reflections upon a wider context of a complex life. But that is how we are viewed, and how we view others; for, it is simply an impossibility to convey, or to hold with accurate assessment, the entirety of a person’s life, leaving aside the lives of everyone and anyone we encounter.
And so we are left with designating labels of convenience; that is John who works in IT; Mary, the office manager, and oh, by the way, she has two kids, one of whom had the flu last week; and so it goes. Are such categorical delegations adequate? For specific purposes, and in defined ways, they are useful in their own methodological curtailments.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intending to 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, it serves well to understand the relevance of contextual extrapolation. For, people have a tendency to want to tell the fullness of one’s life story.
Where to begin? How to introduce one’s self. What to include, and what to exclude.
Such is the contrast between David Copperfield and Holden Caulfield; the lengthy version of a biography, or the brevity of a pointed narrative. Most want to divulge the former; the listener normally desires the latter. To divulge too much is to indulge in needless chatter; discretion is, indeed, often the greater part of valor.
Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, in the writing of one’s narrative, one should try and apply the precision-methodology of extrapolation in mathematics, but with a linguistic application sufficient to relate the relevant facts.
In the end, Caulfield’s concerns were probably overstated, and Copperfield’s remembrances of past childhood hurts could have been somewhat abbreviated; and a compromise between the two in all likelihood would have produced the best of narratives, at least for purposes of an OPM Disability Retirement application.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire