Shades of Grey

Harmony and balance are states that sound so very attractive, I know my heart and spirit yearn for them, and yet what do they really look like? Recently I have had more time to think about what this might look like for me in my life and also for us as a whole community and world. After all, how can you manifest what you cannot define? In the first half of my life I lived under the ideal that everything was clearly black or white, good or bad, this allowed me to navigate through the world feeling justified in my actions and choices. It seemed clear that if I always based my actions on ideals of good, I could not go wrong. 

As a natural healer, I ran around trying my very best to heal others and in so doing I almost killed myself and I hindered others from learning lessons that were meant for them. I cringe now, to think how often I have stunted the growth of others at the determinant to both them and I. All because I was righteously doing good. With maturity comes insight and with insight comes wisdom. From wisdom, we can learn to hold space for ourselves and others. We can learn that empathy and kindness carry so much more weight and growth than judgment and benevolence. 

Shades of grey are hard to decipher and give a natural sense of unease that we often shy away from. A world of black and white provides a sense of security that grey never can. I would like to suggest that it is in fact within the shades of grey that we can truly find ourselves and others. In the finding of each other could we finally create the harmony and balance we so desperately seek?

It can be so comforting and simple to believe that all actions derived from a desire to do good are the best option. If we really care enough to look beneath the surface, we will see that simple is an illusion. Morality is not universal, if we are determined simply to do good by our standards without understanding where others are coming from, we can, in fact, do damage that is not only non-intentional but also highly destructive and possibly irreversible. Look at the number of peacekeeping missions that have hindered or done irreversible damage over the past one hundred years alone. Go back farther and you can find entire cultures wiped out by another man’s determination that their way was the right way and all others must learn to abide by it.

Being able to meet others and ourselves where we are, knowing that we are always enough just as we are. Although we may seek to heal and grow, it has nothing to do with our worthiness. Our love of black and white, of them and us is what we must learn to overcome, it is time to stop accepting the simple answers and delve into the depths in order to come together as the amazing souls we truly are. Letting go of how we saw our goal and allowing that time and wisdom requires us to change and alter our path. A stream does not stop because a branch falls and blocks its intended path, it alters and reroutes until it can find its new direction, the flow does not stop, it simply finds an alternative that is open to it. Perhaps most importantly it does not see this deviation as a failure, it was not a failure to have to reroute the stream and it does not alter by force, but by a soft and constant seeking. 

As a society we have come to romanticize the struggle, the hero who beats the od ds riding off into the sunset with everything they desire. Too often we refuse to be redirected on our course, so determined that we know best that we struggle and fight to gain the upper hand. The Universe will prevail, no matter how focused and ferocious we are. Throughout my life I have persevered over barrier after barrier, I have struggled and fought to keep my feet firmly planted on the earth, survival mode always and ready to fight to the bitter end. I was not listening, because I was right, and I could not accept failure, I am loyal and stubborn, and I just wanted to feel secure. I wanted to fit the cookie-cutter that everyone covets and once I thought I kind of had it, I was not about to let it come tumbling down. 

And oh, my friends it didn’t just tumble, it exploded and erupted and quaked until I couldn’t tell up from down. Hindsight is 20/20 and I can now look back and see at least 8 years of nudges and pushes and hard shoves the Universe kept trying and I kept stubbornly to my course. I kept holding onto things that were not for me, I kept trying to fit into molds that are so counter to my shape as to be painful and I kept trying to negotiate myself into worthiness. I was lying to myself and trying to hide in plain sight. I accepted less than I wanted simply because I was scared that letting go would leave me without enough to survive. 

We are currently sitting at a truly universal rebirth; the entire world has had to stop and pause in place as a scary and uncontrollable Pandemic rages within our communities and hospitals. We are being forced to accept untried restrictions and guidelines knowing that we are facing an unknown outcome. Will this pass? certainly, it shall as all things do, however, what will our world look like after it has. Many of us have spent weeks living a life we could never have dreamed we would and now we are slowly easing back into a more typical routine. 

I can hear the angst increase as many laments over a loss of “normal” and a burning desire to return to the world we had known. And yet was our “normal” so fantastic? Certainly, we miss physical connections to family and friends, of course, we miss the freedom of going where we want whenever we desire. Many sad things have happened, many more will continue to happen before this season ends, and yet I think we have gained something as well. We have all learned that we need each other and that perhaps we need to prioritize that more.

Connection is the one element that could unite the world and yet in our own attempts to connect through similarities, we have in fact created divides so wide that the world weeps in despair at our segregation. It may seem counter-intuitive; I believe that we need to learn to unite over our differences in order to build connections so strong we can find peace in a world that appears bent on destruction. 

Think about it, if you have a team full of only one personality type you will never function at your peak. When I am creating my dream team, I am not looking for others like myself, I am in fact looking for team members that are strong where I am weak in order to be as effective as possible. Our society needs to do the same thing. Too often one faction or another has cried that we are right, and you are wrong and therefore you must believe as we do or you are bad, our enemy, and cannot be left to spread the evil that does not agree with our doctrine.

I believe that we are all very ready to begin again, and I think maybe the lessons we have all learned over the past few weeks can guide us to the world we want to live in, instead of us accepting the way things used to be as the only way to be. Can we go back to our lives and maybe stay a little more present? A little more grateful? And a whole lot more loving towards ourselves and each other? I certainly hope so, and I am quite excited to see where we go from here.

Namaste ~ Michiko @sweetserenityyoga

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