As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to enjoy a greater appreciation for the shades of gray of life. Not the ones on the top of my head (of which there are MANY). And not the ones referred to in “the book” (which I have not read–really). But the nuances related to the issues and challenges–both large and small–that each of us experiences every day of our lives.
I believe this appreciation is born from the perspective we gain over time–by overcoming obstacles, solving problems, celebrating victories, learning from mistakes, and living our lives. And that appreciation has taught me that the subtleties of the gray–the different shades and tones, some warmer, some cooler, some darker, some lighter–are what actually give shape and depth to our lives and the challenges we face along the way.
While black and white provide the outline and the contrast, it is the shades of gray that give us more of the complete picture. It is the shades of gray that help create the shadows and the highlights that, ironically, color the way we see the world.
Like many of you, I am a frequent user of social media. The great thing about social media is that it enables us to connect to one another in ways we could not have just ten years ago. It provides a forum for sharing thoughts and ideas, memories of days gone by, and concerns about friends and loved ones (not to mention countless photos of restaurant food, adorable puppies, family vacations, and precocious children).
But it has also given rise to a phenomenon that concerns me greatly: an increasingly vitriolic and uncivil discourse about the most important issues of our time. A discourse that is almost entirely black-and-white. A discourse built not on facts, but on untruths, half-truths, complete fabrications, and statements taken out of context. A discourse that does not seek to solve our society’s problems, but rather to inflame them.
How did this happen? What message is it sending to our children, who are supposed to learn from our example? And most importantly, what can we do to change it?
One of the benefits of working at Boomers Leading Change in Health is that we have the opportunity to not only see the myriad shades of gray, but to embrace them. We understand that in order to create solutions we cannot focus on the extremes–the black and the white, as it were–but must instead set our sights on finding the common ground that typically exists somewhere in the middle. And, we know that while the rest of the world is busy taking one side of an issue or the other, we cannot afford to dig in our heels, draw lines in the sand, or issue ultimatums.
THERE IS IMPORTANT WORK TO BE DONE.
Perhaps this is one more way Adults 50 and over can change the world again. WE can be the voice of reason in a world filled with so much acrimony and hate. We can use the knowledge, wisdom, and experience WE’VE gained over time to remind society that the causes of life’s challenges are typically not just black-and-white–and that the solutions are comprised of infinite shades of gray, as well as every color of the rainbow. WE can set the example for our children, grandchildren, and the generations that follow by shedding light on the gray. And WE can continue working together to actually solve the problems that everyone else is so busy talking about.
Shades of gray. More than a book title–it’s the story of LIFE.
Here’s to appreciating all the shades of gray in our lives, including the ones on our heads (after all we earned them!) . . .