Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Personal Reflection: Shades of Gray

If you came here in the hopes of reading a book review of the popular adult erotica trilogy... you will be sadly disappointed.  I have not ... nor do I plan to read them.

But I have been ruminating on this idea of shades of gray for quite some time.  I have tried to live my life by following the rules --- ALL the rules.  I have always prescribed to the notion that rules are in place for a reason:  to protect others and to protect ourselves.  Some people, however (many of my close relations), tend to live life by viewing rules as mere guidelines - subject to personal interpretation.  And as you can imagine, this has created some conflict over the years.

For me, life decisions have always centered around what is either right or wrong; good or evil; black or white.  But I am learning that this dichotomous view of life is too rigid.... there can be a gray area.  And as it turns out, there can be many different shades of gray, or black, or white.

I am a rule-follower and a perfectionist by nature... a deadly combination.  But when I add this absolute dichotomy to the mix, I sometimes feel as though I am going to implode.  Let me give a humorous example.  It was mid-afternoon on a warm summer day and several of us decided that ice cream would be the perfect snack.  Dairy Queen was the chosen destination.  Now, I had never been to a Dairy Queen, but was looking forward to a new adventure.  How could I go wrong with ice cream, right?

I distinctly remember walking into the shop, looking at the menu, and instantly feeling overwhelmed.  At that time we had the choice between ice cream or yogurt - vanilla or chocolate.  Ok, I could handle that... but did I want syrup - and if so, which of the five different flavors?  Then there was the decision as to which add-ins to choose:  fruit or candy or both?  I was literally paralyzed from making a decision and, I kid you not, I walked out of the shop empty handed.

I can look back now and laugh at myself, but not at the time.  Was there a "right" or "wrong" decision?  Of course not.  Might I like one combination over another?  Probably, but I could still enjoy the tasty treat.  Would there be an opportunity to return again sometime and try another flavor?  Absolutely.  But none of these "shades of gray" entered my head.  There was either the perfect Blizzard or failure.  And I could not risk failure.

A more recent example - and one in which I have shared on this blog - is the decision to become a writer.  I am still working through this one... as silly as it sounds.  But in my mind I can either call myself a writer - or not.  Do I write?  Yes.  Am I a writer?  No - because I argue, writers must be published, they must have an audience, they must be more creative, etc.  Is it possible to be a writer and a teacher?  Of course it is... but it took me a full month to realize that it was not an either/or decision; it was an "and" decision.

Perhaps that is the key.  To add "and" to my vocabulary and delete the "or"  And invites gray to enter the picture; Or maintains the black/white perspective.  Old habits die hard and I anticipate that this one will be quite difficult to break, but I am at least aware of this limited view, and I have a sincere desire to broaden my mindset in the future: to become more inclusive rather than exclusive - to promote multi-tonal harmony rather than single note melody - to embrace coexistence rather than adhere to strict interpretations.

It is somewhat interesting I have always shared a fondness for color, perhaps it is to compensate for the lack of shading in my mind's eye.  I enjoy scrapbooking and card making - mostly because of the colored paper used in these  projects.  And I am drawn to quilting even though I hate to sew.  I love the combination of bright vibrant colors with shades of subtle hues in precise geometrical patterns.  It is the perfect partnership of the right brain (abstract) and left brain (structured).  It is my hope that in this discovery of shades of gray I might open my mind to adding shades of other colors as well.... to invite the entire 64 color box of crayons for a visit and show me the endless possibilities of creative thought.

1 comment:

  1. This was such an insightful post. I have felt all the things you have, and yes, it is a problem. I am trying to go in the same direction you are, and am succeeding far better than I would've thought possible even as little as a few years ago. (Landmark Education courses really helped open my mind to ways I'd been limiting myself unnecessarily.)

    But I can still (sometimes) feel a sense of panic when going into a grocery store. SO many, multi-thousands of choices! I'm afraid I'll never get out of there.

    Although, now that we're on a Paleo diet, I skip most of the aisles except for the meat, vegetables and fruits. But even there, there are choices. :)