The Beauty of Grey

don’t fixate on right and wrong,” the book says “not to fuss over black and white, you miss out on the beauty of grey.

From The Art of Simple Living, 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy.

Ah yes! I like the word ‘fixate’ here. In the course of a talk or article, we will frequently mention ‘the opposites’, such as right and wrong, light and dark, and here in this quote above, ‘black and white’! So this is pointing to rigid thinking, holding to ideas – holding on TIGHTLY to ideas, opinions, views. Rigidly. That’s a common experience and quote often one only knows how much of a grasp after having come out of the other side. ‘Cricky! Didn’t know I felt that strongly about – whatever’!

But here there is the possibility of ‘grey’? That there is actual beauty in grey and I’m not thinking this is pointing to what we talk about as ‘the middle way’, or the ‘Third Position, beyond the opposites’ although there is a certain elegance in discovering a way between those hard unrelenting twin pillars of right and wrong.

The other morning early there was a wisp of cloud running along the bottom of the valley below. Above clear sunlit hillside and towards the monastery, again sunlit trees picked out in the early morning sun slanting shadows. Such beauty and yet one’s eyes pick out the sharp, clearly defined edges rather than the whispy grey cloud, which quickly dissipated. Mentally or in other spheres we tend to dismiss the ‘grey areas’ as we sprint towards clarity. Between right and wrong, there are many shades of grey where clarity has to give way to ‘not knowing’, to giving time and space for clarity enough to move, to make a decision. To leave a patient in their room to settle and rest, or wait a moment. It’s a judgment call, a grey area to tolerate until the time is right. To leave.

Seems to me there is much more grey than sharp edges to our daily lives. Beauty lies there, tolerance, patience, compassion and a certain discomfort of ‘not knowing’. Not knowing is grey. I’m OK with grey.

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2 thoughts on “The Beauty of Grey”

  1. Thank you for this post.
    Grey can be written off as simply a mixture of black and white that produces a bland neither one thing or the other inbetweeny non-colour. Perhaps the grey of naval battleships ? But it has evoked memories of my father,who being an old school painter and decorator,used to mix his own colours which intrigued me as a child. He could look at a colour and tell you exactly which colours you’d need to mix it.He produced all shades of grey that reflected the sky and clouds. Slate greys,blue greys,pink greys,greys flushed with the sunset or the sunrise. Magical.Happy memories.

  2. It is my hardest struggle every day. When something is not “perfect” in my own mind , should I comment ?, should I intervene ? would it be helpful? would it make a difference?

    Some days there are a myriad tasks that work demands . Each task has a different tipping point between acceptable or not acceptable and the consequences it brings.

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