All Those Shades of Gray

The theme for this week has been gray.   Or grey.  Either way, that’s been the theme. All the shades of it. A lot more than fifty.

It started with going for paint chips.  It seems that we will be making a few improvements to help in the selling of my great Aunt’s house.  A little paint?  No problem.  Finding a color, fairly neutral, that will work in both rooms that need painting, well…..we’re dealing with carpet a yellow gold color (circa 1968? one friend asked–ahem, I’m thinking that’s a big ol’ YEP) and a light mint green.  So gray it is.  But which shade? I’m taking the chips down to the house to decide which shade best matches both and we’ll go from there.

A few of the many shades of gray that have been on my mind this week

A few of the many shades of gray that have been on my mind this week

So the color has been on my mind anyway.

And then the word should came into play.

We had a busy time last weekend and the beginning of this week–family visiting from out of town.  On the go.  All sorts of things going on.  Then Wednesday.  Quiet.  Back to some semblance of normal.  Whatever that is.

And I started contemplating the day’s plans.  What I wanted to do, what my body begged for, was to have a crashout day.  Full of nothing but the bare necessities (everyone clothed and fed as needed IF needed).  But there were other options.  Things I thought I probably should do.

It was when I talked with my Aunt last night that I realized it–“should” was a lot easier when we were little.

The shoulds of childhood, at least in my neck of the woods, were pretty much comprised of what was expected of you–

You should pick up after yourself.  Clean your plate.  Say please and thank you.  Yes ma’am and no ma’am, yes sir and no sir.  Mind your manners.  Don’t sass your folks. Be kind and don’t leave anyone out.  Take care of what you have.  Tell the truth and don’t wipe your nose on your sleeves.  Say excuse me when you burp.  All good shoulds.  Clear cut and not really open to debate or interpretation.  The end.

But the shoulds of my life today?  Without someone to lay down the law, it gets a wee bit fuzzy.  Cloudy.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of black and white–it’s all a lovely shade of gray. Many, many shades. All over the place.

The shoulds in my day to day are so constant, it gets a bit overwhelming.  This world of all the shades of gray.  The decisions of what should be done in any given moment are not always so clear cut.  I try to function on a take care of business first, then rest/read/relax mode, but that’s not always easy.  Should I continue cleaning house or do I give in to the aches and pains that beg for a moment of respite?  Should I plan and cook tomorrow’s lunch or plan our weekly meal out for that time?  Should I rally the troops and my get up and go, and go do {name the activity} or should I make it a day to be home? Is the timing right for the puppy I’ve been wanting, or should I wait? Should I call the attorney handling some business for us, or should I wait for him to call me?  In any given question or decision, there’s not really a right or wrong, just varying shades of grays–pluses and minuses and maybes.  And no one to tell me what I should do.  Maybe it’s the season of life I’m in right now, but even the simplest of “should deciding” can be quite overwhelming.

When I was little there were consequences if I didn’t do what I should.  Woe be the child who didn’t ma’am or sir a grownup in our house.  And sassing our parents–well that didn’t usually have to happen more than one time.  CONSEQUENCES could be memorable at times.  The thing is, in this hazy world of grownup shoulds, the consequences are not always clear.  It’s not always readily apparent that one choice or another was a poor one.  Or a good one.  It just is.

Then today I was visiting with a sweet friend, and we were sharing about people in our lives who can be challenging, who can be hard to be around or to understand at times.  Then other times we catch a glimpse of their story, of maybe why they are where they are, and there come those shades of gray again.  It seems that the older I get, the more I have to let go of the Disney-esque idea of villains versus good guys.  There is simply not a black and white, clear cut category to put most people in.  People are not absolutely 100 percent evil, and for sure there are none who are 100 percent lovely and fabulous and all things good.  No, most of us have varying mixtures of good and evil, light and dark, floating around inside, and, depending on the day/circumstances/amount of sleep we’ve had, one or the other will come out at varying levels.  It’s easy to be angry at someone, but when we hear the story behind what they were thinking or why they were compelled to do what they did–it all gets fuzzy and gray again.  Absolutes end and compassion begins.  We do not live in an Ursula vs. Ariel world.  Oh, how I wish we did sometimes, but it’s just not that easy.

So tomorrow when I lay the paint chips on the carpet–the many, many shades of gray I have to think about and try to choose just one, I’ll be doing something I should do.  But there will be gray area in choosing the right shade of gray because, being a grownup, I have to make some decisions all by myself, many of which I don’t feel qualified to make.  I don’t know what consequences my choice will lead to if any, but, like so many of the shoulds in my life, I’ll just have to make a decision and let the paint chips fall where they may.  Our lives and the decisions we make and the people around us are not all good or bad, black or white.  There’s an awful lot of in-betweens.  And that’s where I live.  In the shades of gray.

4 thoughts on “All Those Shades of Gray

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