The Other Shades of Gray

When I was a young mother, life churned more. There was the corporate job, the car pool, the Saturday errands, the needs of a child, which can make a day vanish in a heartbeat. And because I was the breadwinner, the provider, I needed some shortcuts. One of them was that I pushed things into lists that were black or white

  • This pile of laundry was clean, this was dirty
  • This food was fresh and that food was junk
  • This choice was right and that decision was wrong
  • This book I loved and that one I hated

As I said, it made life easier.

Now that I have different priorities, the world has morphed into many shades of gray. I like parts of book and skim over other parts. The dish of leftovers in the fridge need to be eaten soon, but don’t have to be eaten for lunch today.

This view didn’t bring me more time, it simply means that I don’t make decisions so quickly and so permanently. I change my mind (thank goodness I’m not in politics, that would never do). I re-think, re-consider, and don’t label with quite the vigor I used to. And this seems to make my life easier instead of harder.

Yesterday, there was a difficult man–one of the people we meet who have a tiny bit of power and wield it in a huge way. He was openly hostile, and finally, he called me a bitch because I asked him to please keep the noise down in the hallway where I was teaching.

People in the class were visibly upset. One suggested I find his supervisor and lodge a complaint. Another one suggested I write a letter to the organization and demand an apology.

Shades of gray from

Shades of gray from

And once I may have done that. But something interesting happened here. There was no pinch to his insult. No pain and therefore no anger. I knew what he said was from a frustrated human trying to show his power. It had nothing to do with me. So I didn’t care that he’d called me a bitch. It wasn’t about me.

And any  additional time I spent in this process would simply drain me. So I shrugged it off. I couldn’t have done that if either the accusation rang true or if I had to make the incident either vital or trivial. It was neither. It was just another moment in reality to walk through. And I decided to keep walking.

–Quinn McDonald doesn’t miss the black-or-white days. She likes the slightly more nuanced world of gray.