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Shades of Gray Proliferate November 11, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

Life is not black or white, good or bad, right or wrong.  Shades of gray proliferate.

At first, the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where to “draw the line in the sand” makes us uneasy.  Our steps grow hesitant . . . until our comfort with uncertainty expands.

We no longer see “easy answers” to complex problems.  We stop making snap judgments.  We understand that decisions about matters of import require soul  searching and introspection.

Look deep . . . the answers lie within.

Rather than engaging in time-consuming analysis on every topic that enters  our consciousness, we become more selective about issues ~ prioritizing them according to their “relevance.”

For example, I don’t need to decide  (right now) where I stand on the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

No one is asking me to assist them to end their life.

None of my “nearest and dearest” are suffering from a terminal illness with horrific and unrelenting pain.

For now, I am content to live with shades of gray surrounding that issue, while focusing my attention on matters more pertinent to my present day existence.

As we became more comfortable wandering in twilight, we re-cognize the  freedom of not judging (and pre-judging) everything that enters our path:

* We no longer have an opinion on every topic under the sun, moon, and stars.
* We set down our wheelbarrow of pronouncements on the state of the world.
* We listen with “alert curiosity” to opinions expressed by others.
* We ask questions to explore issues and form reasoned value judgments.
* We no longer label and judge others based on a single facet of their lives.
* We know we cannot fully understand X, Y, or Z based on isolated facts.
* We allow “the line in the sand” to shift as our limited perspective expands.

Once we ascertain that much of life is a murky gray, rather than a bright white or an impenetrable black, we no longer feel the need to have “all the answers.”

We see and accept things as they are, encouraging gradual change with small nudges rather than loud pronouncements.

Clarity is restored to view.

Aah . . . that’s better.

Quote:  We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. ~ Anais Nin

Related posts: Weekend Theme ~ Things Aren’t Always What They Seem (View From The Side) * American Psycho (Creating Reciprocity) * Things Aren’t Always What They Seem (Sidey) * Impressionism & Abstract Expressionism


1. sufilight - November 11, 2011

Nancy, this is so nice to read first thing in the morning. Life does take a different tone as we mature in awareness and wisdom.

This quote resonates with me. “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. ~ Anais Nin”

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

Thanks, Marie. We view the world through the clouded and distorted lens of our fears and prejudices.

When we open our eyes, minds, and hearts . . . clarity is restored. We begin to see things as they are, instead of as we are.

2. Bridgesburning Chris King - November 11, 2011

I love…we no longer have an opinion on everything..

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

It’s very liberating to be able to say, “I don’t know,” or “Well, I guess that depends.” 😀

3. Paula Tohline Calhoun - November 11, 2011

If my thoughts and opinions and feelings about a particular subject did not change as I grew in experience and matured, I would be a very dull, ignorant, uneducated, unaware person indeed.

I have always said that God invented the shade of gray. God wants us to think and use our brains, and not have what would be considered patently obvious in front of our faces. Where is the challenge in that, and how could we grow into the individuals we were created to be? No, or one choice means, to me (right now! 😆 ) no growth!

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

A man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ~ Muhammad Ali

Paula Tohline Calhoun - November 12, 2011

I LOVE that quote! It should be tatooed on our foreheads! Mine, at least! And maybe somewhere else where I could read it myself! 😆

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

When people encourage consistency in US . . . what they really want is predictability for THEM. 😀

4. Judith - November 11, 2011

Shades of grey. I like that. It’s liberating to know that I don’t have to have an opinion on every little thing. Only those things that I choose and choice is our right. 🙂

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

I used to hate admitting that I did not know something . . . now, I rather enjoy it.

It’s wonderful to know that we do not need to know all of the answers to life (and its perpetual paradox). 😀

Paula Tohline Calhoun - November 12, 2011

If you ever want to know the answer to any of the questions of life, just ask me! I’ll always give you an answer! My Mom used to say that whenever people asked her quetions of that sort (or any type of question), she always gave them an authoritative answer. She reasoned that if people asked her, they must have expected the proper answer. So they deserved whatever answer they got! I am now carrying on that tradition. I’ll give you and answer. Whether it’s the right answer is not guaranteed, but it will be an answer! 😆 😉 :mrgreen:

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

You go, girl! TIOOYFC! 😆

5. SidevieW - November 11, 2011

I perfer to see the world as many colours, some suit me more at times than others do. Black and white are for a few issues only

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

Life is a coat of many colors ~ brilliant, bright, and resplendent.

6. cuhome - November 11, 2011

I couldn’t agree more! Good post!

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

Thanks. Being flexible in our beliefs allows us to bend more easily without snapping.

7. Pocket Perspectives - November 11, 2011

Nancy, your post is filled with wonderful insights…thank you. I sent it along to my husband, an attorney/mediator….he works with so many people who are stuck in black or white and refuse to get that idea of grey.
I was just noticing this morning, as I read the newspaper, that I skipped many many articles that I probably would have read a few years ago…”nope, don’t need to know about that, nope, don’t need to know about that either” …choosing where to put my attention and energy rather than spreading it so widely.

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

Trial attorneys are trained to see things from all angles . . . in order to more effectively persuade jurors that there is only one perspective that makes sense. 😉

Good for you, choosing whether and where to focus your attention and energy.

8. Carl D'Agostino - November 11, 2011

This shades of gray stuff is true and very frustrating. There is very little clear cut this or that on almost anything. It makes it impossible to define ourselves and choose courses of action that are pure in intent.

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

Especially since the Ego is always mucking about with our thoughts . . . trying to get MORE recognition, accolades, etc.

The journey through life is like walking a tightrope without a net . . . maintaining balance is key.

9. Julie - November 11, 2011

Love this line:

“We set down our wheelbarrow of pronouncements on the state of the world.”

Thanks for this.

nrhatch - November 11, 2011

We crave certainty and predictability. We form impressions about past experiences, and use them to pre-judge and interpret future situations.

These pronouncements echo through our minds . . . X is good . . . I don’t like Y . . . everyone should do Z. Often, we aren’t even aware of the tapes playing in the background as we quickly sum up scenarios.

When we learn to tune out these pronouncements, we are able to experience THIS moment as it is . . . rather than seeing it through the clouded filter of past experiences.

And because we don’t have pronouncements “at the ready,” we are able to listen to others and see what THEY think for a change. 😉

10. adeeyoyo - November 12, 2011

I always was a black and white person. Now I know there are greys, but I’m still very uncomfortable with them…

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

I have a few “hot button” topics ~ animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and divisive religious beliefs.

11. jannatwrites - November 12, 2011

I agree – I don’t need to form an opinion about topics that aren’t relevant to me at the moment.

I also don’t waste time with examining others’ predicaments to determine if I would have done the same thing. It doesn’t matter…and besides, it’s impossible to know unless I have the same life experiences and am placed in the same set of circumstances.

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

I have opinions on numerous topics, and share them with others all the time . . . but my self-esteem doesn’t deflate if they disagree with me.

My opinions on most topics don’t define the essential “me” because they are chaning all the time.

12. bluebee - November 12, 2011

Very well said, Nancy – it so much less exhausting. And there’s also nothing wrong with sitting on the fence when we feel ambivalent about an issue

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

If each of us focused on the issues that really matter to us, and gained knowledge and understanding of solutions to those issues, maybe we would start to make progress?

As it is, we all know something about everything . . . and everything about nothing. We’re barely skimming the surface.

13. eof737 - November 12, 2011

Plus, there is much to learn from those murky shads of gray. 🙂

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

I agree. Often on SLTW, I’ve adopted a black or white stance on issues like the death penalty and euthanasia to “spark” debate and reaction.

I do it infrequently because it can be exhausting.

14. souldipper - November 12, 2011

Great phrase “wandering in twilight”. This is such a big part of my truth, too, Nancy. Freedom has been with us all along. Imagine how dangerous we would have been if we’d known this earlier! 😀

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

Wandering in twilight uncertainty keeps me alert for clues about the “next best step” on my path. I wander slowly and listen intently . . . allowing the path time to unfold before me.

We did know it earlier . . . we just didn’t know that we knew. 😉

15. kateshrewsday - November 12, 2011

Interesting: I am an all-or-nothing type and I have recently been learning to see the shades: a continuum rather than a contrast. It’s quite liberating to be able to do so.

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

Yes. Instead of bouncing from one polar extreme to the other, we slide and glide along the continuum . . . gaining perspective as we go. Less stress. More time to relax and listen.

16. creatingreciprocity - November 12, 2011

Great post – very thought provoking – maybe we need things to be grey so we can learn because white and black can both be blinding?

nrhatch - November 12, 2011

When we are willing to see shades of gray, we reclaim our alert curiosity about life . . . instead of walking around mumbling, “been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” 😉

17. Tilly Bud - November 14, 2011

I think this is mostly true, but there are moments when it is only black or white.

nrhatch - November 14, 2011

I have a few “hot button” topics ~ animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and divisive religious beliefs.

18. Tinman - November 14, 2011

I should try and memorize this post, Nancy, so many of the things that you mention are exactly the things that I do wrong.

It’s a great post. Thanks.

nrhatch - November 14, 2011

Thanks, Tinman. I still have opinions on lots of topics . . . but I’m not quite as “shattered” when others don’t see things in the same light as I do.

Why should they? They haven’t been standing in my shoes all these years. 😛

19. Perfecting Motherhood - November 15, 2011

Little kids see lots of shades of gray (of course, they still have to learn that no means no!) but school teaches them so early on that there’s always one correct answer and one wrong answer. There are so many shades of gray and if you think about it, many shades of black, and white. I wish more people tried to keep an open mind.

nrhatch - November 15, 2011

We must be the change we wish to see in the world. If we walk through our days with open minds and open hearts . . . others will begin to emulate our lead.

20. thirdhandart - November 15, 2011

Love Ali’s quote: “A man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
A few things are black and white (there is no excuse for animal abuse, child abuse or domestic violence); but, other things can be shades of gray. I don’t have “all the answers” either.

nrhatch - November 15, 2011

When we realize that we do not have the “one correct view” of the world, our perspective broadens. We start to view the world with a bit more kindness and compassion, causing ourselves to feel more “light hearted” as a result.

21. CMSmith - November 15, 2011

Do you think all that comes with age and life experience?

nrhatch - November 15, 2011

Yes, and no. Many of our opinions are tempered with age and experience but . . . some of the most close-minded people I’ve met have been old and “set in their ways.” 😉

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