I’m in my gray stage. Gray seems to be my best ‘look’ right now. Salt and pepper hair. Silver jewelry. Gray winter skies. And a perspective that lives somewhere between the yes and the no, the gray zone. I like the gray zone. I watched my friend (I’ll call her Claire), struggling with the black and the white.
“I hate my job.”
“Oh. Why do you stay?”
“Are you nuts! I have to. How else am I going to support myself. No one’s going to hire me at my age.”
(Side note, she’s 44.)
“All these young 20 something’s are coming up in the company. They get cheaper salaries, they’re smarter, have more energy and are quicker on the computer.”
“Oh. Does your 18 plus years in the company and life experience carry any weight there?”
“Well it should but no one listens to me. I’m not excellent at anything.” (She’s excellent at focusing on the negative.”)
“Didn’t you tell me you got a great year end review? I wonder why? What did they like?”
“That was only one of my supervisors. The other one, the one who’s half my age hasn’t weighed in yet. She hates me.”
You get the idea. This could go on and on.
I call Claire’s banter the “Yes, but… dance.” Whenever you suggest a positive, Claire adds a “yes, but.” Claire thinks in black and white. It’s either good or bad, right or wrong, happy or sad, acceptable or unacceptable. No gray territory for Claire.
Me, I like gray. Gray clothes, gray hair and most of all I like looking at the gray layers of reality, the vast perspectives of the subjectivity of experiences. I like how some people see light as a wave and others see particles. I like looking for both particles and waves. I find it fascinating that our experience of reality is simply a function of our perspective, and how we think about and respond to our reality, dictates our experience.
Over 20 years ago I remember reading an article in a magazine where they interviewed 4 Tibetan monks who had been incarcerated in China. They also interviewed 4 Vietnam vets who had been imprisoned. Both groups were tortured daily by their captors. The vets all had PTSD. The monks didn’t. The interviewer asked the monks why they were so happy and why they seemed to have no ill after affects from their experience. They responded something like this…”Oh, we were so happy to be working off karma. We thanked our captors.”
I can’t say I’m as evolved as the monks but I’m sure curious about the gray zone. The zone Buddha describes as, “The wise man has no preferences.” Yes, I prefer the gray zone. It’s interesting here, feels expansive between the bookends of the black and white. It’s where I go to grow. Where do you go to grow?
I am anxiously awaiting the start of our Circle of 9 women in just a few weeks. There are just 3 open spots left. Please join me in the gray zone. It’s a place to grow.