Shades of Gray

grayflowersGray describes most of this week. Skies have been various shades of gray, there is a cool misty rain, snowflakes, winds with a temperatures between 25º and 40º .. threatening to freeze at night. It has been a series of in-between kinds of days … not really winter, definitely not Spring; not warm, nor freezing; not sunny, but not storming .. some people would describe it as dreary.

Complaints about the dull weather can be heard everywhere … unlike sunny days which people get excited about or stormy days which people talk about … it is just a moderately gray, bland, easily forgotten kind of day .. lukewarm, middle of the road, nothing special, nothing horrible … just blah! However, it causes a hidden, underlying frustration that grows as we linger in the gray zone … we wonder, will Spring and color ever come back to our lives?

This feeling applies to more than just the weather, it applies to life, also. Living life in the gray zone all the time is also bland and internally frustrating. The none committal acts, wishy-washy answers, ambiguity of opinions, lackadaisical work, “okay” is good enough philosophy, inability to make/act on decisions, it won’t matter either way attitude .. living in the foggy, meaningless middle makes for a purposeless life. It actually makes a person unknowable .. their values, their passions, their faults are all invisible to the rest of the world. The middle is usually the safe spot, but by floating there all the time the current of life ends up determining your future, not you.

There was an author on the radio Wednesday discussing the characters in her new book. She said that the characters can not be in the gray zone .. while writing, she had to emphasize and even exaggerate the good and bad aspects of their personalities in order to make them be likable and memorable. Characters who are in the gray area are just “fuzzy” and unrecognizable .. they just blend into everything else and are meaningless to the story. Obvious black and white tones are a necessity in a book and colorful characters are even more important.

Life needs color, too. It seems as we age, life’s colors fade and we are more likely to choose the gray middle instead of taking a chance and living the colors of our passions. We have all done it … chosen the middle because it felt the safest thing to do or it would cause the least amount of friction or conflict in our lives. And, sometimes choosing the middle is the wise thing to do … but, if life is experienced there all the time, the world, loves, and passions vanish … it is a pretty “blah” existance with no visible path, a blurry past, and an accidental “what ever bumps into me” future.

Children seem to understand how to live in a colorful, black and white world better than adults. They don’t see gray. It is easier for them to see what is right and wrong, easier to know what is fair, they have fewer fears and are more likely to take a risk. As adults, maybe we just think too much and all the obvious black and white answers get mucked up and stirred together into a very gray fog that makes the colors fade out of our lives.

Thinking back on special moments in life, how many of those moments took place in the gray zone? Not many, if any .. the gray zone is like a black hole .. not much to remember. Colorful times, even times of black and white .. now, those stand out … those are remembered for a lifetime. Living your passions makes life colorful .. color reveal the truth and spirit of life.


Shades of Gray (performed by the Monkees)
by Barry Mann and Cyntha Weil

When the world and I were young,
Just yesterday.
Live was such a simple game,
A child could play.
It was easy then to tell right from wrong.
Easy then to tell weak from strong.
When a man should stand and fight,
Or just go along.

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white,
Only shades of gray.

I remember when the answers seemed so clear
We had never lived with doubt or tasted fear.
It was easy then to tell truth from lies
Selling out from compromise
Who to love and who to hate,
The foolish from the wise.

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white,
Only shades of gray.

It was easy then to know what was fair
When to keep and when to share.
How much to protect your heart
And how much to care.

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white,
Only shades of gray.
Only shades of gray

~ by bearyweather on March 29, 2009.

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