The Struggle Between Shades of Grey
“There’s so much grey to every story – nothing is so black and white.” (Lisa Ling)
The moon in Light n Shadow as viewed by Riv through a telescope on the Ramon Crater circa 2016
“I prefer to work with grey characters rather than black and white” and “I like grey characters; fantasy for too long has been focused on very stereotypical heroes and villains.” (George R. R. Martin)
We live today between shades of grey in the liminal twilight space of what remains uncertain, non-defined, vague and blurred. Life, people, ideas, ideals, causes, religion, law and justice are no longer simply defined as black & white. They are all more complex, an eclectic mix of both black and white, many colours, or shades of grey.
Perhaps we are a confused generation. Or perhaps we can no longer afford the simplistic definitions and stifling categories. Whatever it may be, it is the grey reality of our world. So, let's try to embrace the ambiguity of the grey. Let's accept and welcome the eclectic. Let's love the difference. Let's move away from the need to define, to confine, and to place people, experiences, and opportunities into square boxes.
Let's try not to fear the unknown, the undefined, the ever changing. For it is the grey that brings sunshine, difference, colour, uniqueness and interest. As Emma Watson says: “I’m a real Londoner. We have very grey weather in London, and I think it encourages a very eclectic and crazy fashion sense. I mix high-street stuff with more high-end fashion, and I love vintage.”
Where once, the parameters were clearly defined, for instance – white was “winning”, while black was “failing”; in today’s entrepreneurial generation, “failing” is the new “winning”; “owning” is the new “sharing”; black is white, and white is black. Many shades of grey. I am reminded of the words from Katie Melua’s song – Spider’s Web: “Cause the line between wrong and right is the width of a thread from a spider’s web....the piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind…”
For life itself is a shade of grey. As always, nature is our greatest and most honest teacher. Like the moon, we follow the waxing, waning, darkness, shadow, light, and fullness of her cycles. Constantly and consistently - a dichotomous and oxymoronic struggle between body and soul; physical and spiritual; good and evil; light and dark/shadow; right and wrong. According to Hasidic Philosophy, it is for this reason that we were created – to struggle between the shades of grey.
To be honest, I don’t want to struggle. The depth and the complexity are harsh and often draining. I don’t like to play the grey areas in life – “that’s the most uncomfortable place to be. Nobody likes to be in that in-between state where they don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of tension in that, and a lot of stuff to play with – where it’s uncomfortable and awkward and sad and scary.” (Melanie Lynskey) And then of course, “I believe very strongly that when it comes to desire, when it comes to attraction, that things are never black and white, things are very much shades of grey.” (Brian Molko)
But, maybe we’d be bored and flat without the struggle, the drama, and the complexity. As George R. R. Martin states: “I’ve always preferred writing about grey characters and human characters. Whether they are giants or elves or dwarves, or whatever they are, they’re still human, and the human heart is still in conflict with the self.” “Life flies by, and it’s easy to get lost in the blur. In adolescence, it’s ‘How do I fit in?’ In your 20s, it’s ‘What do I want to do?’ In your 30s, ‘Is this what I’m meant to do?’ I think the trick is living the questions. Not worrying so much about what’s ahead but rather sitting in the grey area – being OK with where you are.” (Chris Pine)
I was raised to view much of our world in more absolute terms...but today I adapt and recognize that very rarely is anything or anyone absolute.
“When I was a little girl, everything in the world fell into either of these two categories: wrong or right. Black or white. Now that I am an adult, I have put childish things aside and now I know that some things fall into wrong and some things fall into right. Some things are categorized as black and some things are categorized as white. But most things in the world aren’t either! Most things in the world aren’t black, aren’t white, aren’t wrong, aren’t right, but most of everything is just different. And now I know that there’s nothing wrong with different, and that we can let things be different, we don’t have to try and make them black or white, we can just let them be grey. And when I was a child, I thought that G-d was the G-d who only saw black and white. Now that I am no longer a child, I can see, that G-d is the G-d who can see the black and the white and the grey, too, and He dances on the grey! Grey is okay.” (C. JoyBell C.)
Grey is the area of compromise. The beauty of the unknown. The mystery of the uncertainty. Every struggle between the shades of grey allows us to find out about our internal strengths and weaknesses, to become more self-aware, and to learn about the role we play in the greater cosmos. It is then, in the briefest of moments, on a lucky day, that the grey clouds part to reveal, not the simplistic black and white, but rather, all of the colours of the spectrum – the rainbows and the white light.
With Wonder, Wisdom, and White light Until next time…. Riv