Gathering the straws of life together

Life in the grey zone

Life in the grey zone

What does life in the grey zone mean? Does it mean we are flexible, compromise, see others sides of the story or are we more black or white? Where are you on the continuum of extremes? Do you find yourself in the grey zone or leaning to one side or the other?

Just in case you did not know, grey is a combination of black and white. Black or white is not a colour. Black is made with equal parts of red, yellow and blue. Also, brown and blue creates a rich black. Grey is a colour without colour. Now this is getting complicated. What I mean is that when we live life in the grey zone without the specificity of being black or white, there are many shades of grey in between.

In the many shades of grey there are many positions we can take. For example, I can see something one way and my One & Only (O&O) can see it in a completely other way. We can be on other ends of the continuum and usually there is no right position or wrong position, there is just a different position. Both positions can be right, for different reasons. That is why people have disagreements. It is because we are adamant our position is the right one!

We can live in binary worlds or choose to live in the grey zone. This is the space where we can still keep our principles, values and opinions but are willing to listen to and understand where others are coming from. That is, both sides of the equation. I have met a few people in my almost seven decades of living on this planet who are totally inflexible; they have their views and opinions – end of story! They can even be vehemently opposed to another’s view about how they see a situation. If you are on a debating team or ever experienced debating, then you want people to have an opposite view. But when you want to get on with others, differing views can interfere with what could have been a wonderful friendship.

The black and white world means that you are either good or bad. If you are seen as a bad neighbour then you generally stay there – BAD! If you are seen as a good neighbour then you generally stay there – GOOD! After a person is termed “good” they can make a few peccadilloes (small sins) but remain on the “good” side. If you live life  in the grey zone then you are continually assessing the situation, re-examining the circumstances and making decisions about where things and where people fit in the zone! To me it makes sense to change, to adapt and be willing to see things another way. If I am like that I am continually moving back and forth in the grey zone – thinking things through and deliberating, not jumping to conclusions!

If we see the world as black or white we can see it as good vs evil; smart vs stupid; hard-working vs lazy. These are the extremes between what could be a grey zone. Take for example smart vs stupid. Thinking in extremes causes people to lose balance, to get out of the space in the middle. In the work environment if someone makes a mistake and are categorised as stupid some people will leave them there in the “stupid” space. But if a person makes a mistake and learns from it then they are smarter than they were before they made the mistake. Success comes from failure after the lessons of life become a teacher.

Take another example. A person applies for a job. They will either get the job or not get the job. The answer will be a “yes” or “no”. If the answer is “no” then a person should not see themselves as “not good enough” as this will have an impact on how they see themselves and others into the future. Take a relationship, one extreme is love and acceptance the other is hate and rejection. A better place to live is in the grey zone – a place where we can compromise, work things through, to forgive and move forward stronger in our relationship. Not so easy, as statistics remind us about the number of broken relationships.

Take another example that is foremost and in many minds in Australia – the “Barnaby Blues” of the Coalition Government. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said that Barnaby made a “shocking error of judgment” that “appalled everyone” when he made his ground-breaking change to ministerial standards, whereby ministers were not to have sex with their staff. My first point is that Mr Turnbull cannot talk for “everyone” in such circumstances. He can only talk for himself and on behalf of others who have agreed with his point of view.

Wading into such areas of people’s personal lives and then taking a position at one end of the continuum is a “brave” thing to do or is it a “stupid” thing to do? Black = sinful (morally wrong); white = righteous (virtuous). Without all the facts, we are living life in the grey zone. If we are in that space can we make a judgement?

Mr Turnbull in his Sixty Minutes interview with Liz Hayes told her his relationship with his wife is “forever together”. When I saw the Sixty Minutes interview I realised I had the perfect plot for a Mills and Boon book! Even though I have never read a Mills and Boon book I concocted enough material from the interview to begin writing the book.

In 2016 in Australia there were 46,604 divorces (around 2 per 1000 people). Do I like to see people’s relationships fail – no! Do I like to see people go through relationship heartbreak – no! As I said to my O&O after the media continued commentary on the Barnaby affair – there will be no winners in this situation. Living my life in the grey zone means that I am only interested in Barnaby’s work, the job he does on behalf of his constituents and other Australians. Even his wife, who is estranged from him, said she wanted him to keep his job as Deputy Prime Minister. Everyone should just keep out of Barnaby’s bedroom and let him get on with his job. Those people who set themselves up as the moral police, may find themselves in a similar position down the track. Much better to live life in the grey zone on this matter. That is why; I am in the grey zone. I cannot judge Barnaby or his partner Vikki. I don’t know all the facts and it is not my place to know the facts anyway. All I can do is retreat to the grey zone and hope I do not harm anyone, at the very least anyone I love. Maybe that is the same, for so many others, just trying to get on with life. Life, our decisions and choices are not just “black” or “white”.



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