GOING GRAY

SONY DSCPeople of a certain delicate age, we decided last time out, don’t really forget stuff. We just misplace it for a time.
This week we face another conundrum. Why do decisions that were once clear-cut now have more angles than a 10th grade geometry book? When did snap judgements expand to Supreme Court-deliberation length?
Why does a final, rock solid decision continuously elude me?

Something else is going on here. It isn’t only the sheer amount of stuff shoved into my memory bank.
It’s the filter.
My filter assigns virtue to incoming information.
Like my hair, the filter is getting gray and brittle.
Another scourge of middle age.

My grandsons are infants. The world is white to them. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, centers around their needs. A nuclear explosion could erupt in the next town and they would demand a diaper change. Naptime can’t wait for important phone calls to end and they really have no use for Mommy’s migraine when their little tummies rumble. The world is straightforward and monochrome. It is responsible for making them happy and keeping them safe. All is white.

By the time these little ones hit their teenage stride something remarkable will have happened.
Another color, another dimension, will have gradually crept into their ‘me’ world.
Black takes its place along white.
Now, while still wanting to fulfill their own pleasures and needs, these blossoming youth comprehend that some things are bad. They will begin assessing data and assigning colors.
Is this good or bad? Black or is it white?
Decision making over all that info takes more time. They no longer see just a white spotlight focussed on their own needs. They see the dark of wrong, bad, evil. Their brains have more information to process. Not only are they working with more experience to apply to the info. They have to make a judgement call.
Black or white?
Life isn’t entirely simple.
But it still is sort of simple. Rarely in the idealistic absolutes of youth do black and white puddle together into ambiguity.

Here at the tail end of middle age, black and white are no longer the primary colors used by my brain to file information, make an application and deduce, “This is bad. That is good. She is evil. He is pure. Do this. Don’t do that.”

Grayness has set in. So few of the decisions are easy. Implications abound. While some actions I observe are overtly evil or obviously good, I have learned (oh, blast that experience!) that quick verdicts are not always easy to make.
Judgment calls require the sifting of acquired wisdom and accumulated experience and hits and misses. We are so much slower than we used to be because our filter has so much more to sort. Lean chicken or marbled steak? Spankings or time outs? Liberal Republican or conservative Democrat? What does ‘in the world but not of it’ look like? Will the shabby man begging for spare change spend it on liquor? How can one tired finite mind figure this all out?

Humans and situations and issues are complex. People can do bad things with good intentions. Charitable actions can have self-serving motives, honorable nations can fight dishonorable wars and every story doesn’t have 2 sides. It might have a dozen.

There are absolutes in the world. I respect them but understand that fallible humans have trouble living those absolutes absolutely. I respect justice but crave mercy. The gray filter of my mind has seen the dark recesses of my heart struggle with the brightness of Good. It reminds me how foolhardy and hypocritical a rush to judgement can be.
At the same time my brittle, tired filter longs for the day when I won’t have to analyze, appraise and critique myself or others or issues or events.

Someday, my gray filter won’t be needed. All will be White. And I’ll have eternity to enjoy the chicken AND the steak.

9 thoughts on “GOING GRAY

  1. Oh, this is beautiful! You have captured the evolution of moral processing perfectly!! (Okay, maybe not absolutely perfectly…I suppose I could analyze the potential for misinterpretation by those who are younger…or older..oh, blast it!! I’ll just stick with first assessment. Perfectly captured!)

    I especially love your words, “The gray filter of my mind has seen the dark recesses of my heart struggle with the brightness of Good. It reminds me how foolhardy and hypocritical a rush to judgement can be.” Only someone with real experience and wisdom could come to this realization. Lovely insight! Grace and peace to you.

  2. I love it, Anita!! You always have a way of putting into words the very things I have been thinking…. the more complicated my analyzation of the scenarios around me, becomes, the more I find myself slipping into His rest to carry me on from one decision to the next. So thankful for His grace and His mercy that see me as white as snow. Love you, sister!! Keep it coming! Very good stuff!

  3. Very smart. Took me two reads for the full effect. Beautiful insight on the perspective a bit of age and wisdom can bring, Anita. The section lovely Rebeca quoted above is my favorite part, too.

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