Monday, November 28, 2011

More than Shades of Gray

 I have a very good friend who occasionally infuriates me by his tendency to see everything in black and white. If someone is having a hard time at work, it's "Why not just find another job?" His answer to a friend's difficult marital woes is "Why did she stay this long? Why didn't she just leave?" Everything in his eyes is just that simple and clear-cut.

I wish it were so simple. I see the shades of gray. In fact, I don't just see the shades of gray, I see the colors as well. The beleaguered worker doesn't just find another job because he experiences the red-hot frustration of a sometimes difficult boss and the green glares of envy in the eyes of several coworkers as they play office politics with him. On the other hand, he also has the golden glow of friendship and genuine concern from several other co-workers. He is also tickled pink every day because he truly enjoys the work he gets to do everyday. Getting another job is anything but black and white.

It seems simple enough for the woman in the blue-tinged loneliness of a bad marriage. Yet, what those on the outside never saw were the occasional bright red flashes of love and even passion between her and her jerk-of-a-husband. There were the warm brown moments of familiarity, as comforting as a cup of cocoa on a cold day, that came from knowing someone so long and experiencing so much with them. There was the flush of pink embarrassed cheeks as she imagined sharing what she had endured with condescending friends who "would have known better" if what had happened to her had happened to them. There was the gray-steely resolve she showed for years as she was determined to make her marriage work no matter what. So deciding to leave and getting up the courage to do so was anything but black and white.

Most things in life aren't black and white or even gray. If we truly look at a situation, we will see it flushed with vivid, realistic and emotional color. To discount those colorful experiences is to cheapen and dismiss those experiences.

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