The Counting Crows song, Mr. Jones, is one of the most popular songs of the mid 90’s and one that many of us know word for word…including myself! I loved that album as it was released during some of the most formative years of my youth. But when Adam Duritz would sing that line from the song, I would roll my eyes as I belted out the lyrics with him. Why? Because I really don’t like the color gray. Nope, not one bit.
I’ve never liked gray because it’s muted, dull and makes me looked washed out when I wear it. When I sweat wearing grey, it shows through my clothes…sweaty pits, ugh! Grey is the color of the overcast, rainy sky and makes things feel melancholy and bland. It lacks both depth and brightness.
And really… how do you even actually spell the word? Is it grey or gray? With an “a” or an “e”? The word itself is indecisive on how it wants to be spelled. Make up your mind grey/gray! (Both are actually acceptable and so I use them interchangeably and randomly).
Personally, I’ve always been more attracted to contrast. I like definition. Black and white are my favorite colors. My wardrobe consists of mostly black and a little white. I feel good wearing black and I enjoy having the limited selection to choose from. It brings me peace.
Grey has always just felt like this place of indecisiveness, uncertainty and wishy washiness to me. Gray is this place in between, limbo. Like it doesn’t know if it wants to be black or white. It can’t make up its mind.
I used to get frustrated with people who couldn’t pick a side or make up their mind one way or the other. And here is grey, doing exactly that. It just lives in the middle doing its own thing. Doing its own thing…Aha! And then I saw the magic in that…living in the middle, doing its own thing and my wheels began to turn.
When I take another look, a different perspective, I realize that grey is really where life happens. I have come to appreciate grey in all of its shadiness now. Life really happens in the grey area, not in the black or white.
There are issues and concerns for many of us that are truly black or white in our minds. We all have certain hard stops, deal breakers or views that will never change from being black or white. Some topics will always be right or wrong, good or bad; but for most, our views lie more in the varying degrees and shades of gray. Our answer to tough questions is more in line with “it depends” than a firm “yes” or “no”.
Can we look at how we are more similar rather than different? You may believe something wholeheartedly on the left, but just because I’m not all the way left with you doesn’t mean I’m a hard right or the complete opposite. It’s rarely ever that black and white! We likely agree on more than we disagree. This is where grey becomes magical. The grey area is where we can actually find some agreement. When we feel we only have black and white to choose from, it can lead to division, separation and judgement. I have learned to value the “grey”, the “it depends”, because that is where most of us live. And that is a place where we can possibly find some common ground to thrive and connect as fellow human beings.
So now when Mr. Jones plays, I smile as I sing that line…because grey still might not be my favorite color, but I respect all that lives within the grey. Because the gray is where I can connect and find common ground with you.
P.S. When people ask me tough questions or ask me for a favor, my first answer is almost always…”it depends”. Not only because that’s my legit answer, but it also buys me some time to think and hear what they want! Feel free to use that strategy too!