Friday, November 20, 2009

Shades of Grey or Gray

Most of the time, to most people, situations seem awfully black and white. The thing is, if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you'll find many various shades of grey that you were overlooking.

Before I continue, I feel like I should explain my use of "grey" over "gray." When I was younger and wanted to live in a castle somewhere in Europe, I adopted the English spelling for many words. "colour" got me kicked out of my fourth grade spelling bee. I try my hardest not to add that extra 'u' in words anymore, but I still prefer "grey" over "gray". To me, "grey" represents a mixture of black and white, while "gray" evokes feelings of gloom. Maybe it's odd, but that's just my personal preference.

However you spell it, I'm constantly amazed by how many people refuse to see the shades of grey in life's circumstances. My friends seem to be dominated by a "I'm right, they're wrong" mentality. What good does that really do? What can we learn from those situations? In my mind, all it does is breed hostility and allow bitterness to fester over a situation gone awry. It's much easier on an ego to see both sides and understand that there are many ways for any situation to go. For one to expect that every conflict will end in their pure hubris. What's the harm in looking at the opposing side? Maybe, just maybe you'll start to see some flaws in your own logic that can help you build a stronger argument next time.

I used to want to be a lawyer. When I was young, I thought my communication skills and quick wit would help me get my point across to any audience and allow me to defend the downtrodden. I soon realized that as a lawyer I would be forced to defend people that were neither entirely right nor entirely wrong. I would, in effect, have to choose a side knowing full well that I didn't believe it was the only legitimate point of view. That was the end of that aspiration. To this day, I can't really defend something that I don't completely believe (so if you get in an argument with me and I'm fervently holding my ground, you may want to give your position a second thought.)

Because my extreme empathy is rare, it can make people who aren't used to it pretty cranky. When someone's pouring their heart out about how upset it made them that they were cut off by a woman on the freeway, the last thing they want to hear is that she had been trying to get to her exit, but you were driving the exact speed as the car right beside you, leaving her no opportunity to shuffle appropriately. Run on sentences aside, enlightenment like that is generally unwelcome. I try to curb my urges to paint other people's scenes in grey. Even so, that's most likely what's going through my head as I nod in support. So now you know that just because I'm not arguing with you, doesn't mean that I agree with what you're saying. I believe that life is extremely grey and that's wonderful.

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