The beauty in the gray

An INTJ-A* (Myers-Briggs type) Aspie (that’s me) is about as “black and white” as it gets.

Something either is, or it isn’t.  It’s yes or no.  It’s right or wrong.  There’s no in-between.

For some issues, that’s an easy call to make.  Sexual assault.  Murder.  Theft.  Bullying.  Only a sociopath would argue with that.  And their opinion hardly counts, for those “people” are hardly human.

But what about the rest of it, this thing we call life?

I’ll give an example, and a polarizing topic to boot: religion.

I have observed a great many people who, having been victimized and traumatized by their strict fundamentalist Christian upbringing, shunned religion and spirituality altogether, resulting in a proclamation of atheism.

Maybe…maybe not.

Had they arrived at that decision with full awareness, after having investigated other, nonjudgmental philosophies like Buddhism?

Or was it a kneejerk reaction to the idea of a supreme being at all?

Maybe they investigated thoroughly and decided nothing fit.  Or maybe they pulled away altogether, erasing all chances of getting hurt again, but also eliminating any possibility of a new and potentially fulfilling experience.

(That’s not to say that atheism is somehow empty or less valid or devoid of happiness or anything like that, of course!  I’ve been there; I’ve been atheist, too.)  It’s simply that some can get trapped in thinking so starkly in black and white that they may miss out on something that they might have liked if given the chance.  Personally, I’m glad that I eventually opened up to other philosophies; my own life is richer for it.  Of course, however, I don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself.

Another (related) example: the creation vs evolution debate.  Some argue one way, others argue another.

I chuckle to myself.  What if the truth is that it’s both?  What if both sides are saying the exact same thing, just in different “languages”?

Let’s take politics; some adhere to the left, others adhere to the right.  Both sides make good points, and both sides make shitty points.  Why not take what resonates with you from each (if one side doesn’t already speak to you completely)?

Life itself is on a spectrum.  I’m not talking about the autism spectrum here; I’m referring to everything else.  Life itself is not binary; it’s analog.  It’s messy.  There’s a lot of in-between.  Possibilities are all over the map; some aren’t even on the map.

Aspies tend to think in black and white.  That’s ok, and it can also be limiting.  There is–or can be–beauty in the in-between.

Take ethnic background; there’s beauty and magic in the combination of cultures.  What results is an enchanting hybrid of mutual respect and understanding.  Hopefully, the best from both is adopted by both.

The same goes for some of my own stances.  I used to think that the US border should be closed and that all undocumented residents should be deported.  But a few years ago, I started to question that stance.  Why?  I met a real person who had crossed the border illegally.  He’s a nice, hardworking man.  He married my best friend.  They’re perfect for each other.  Who am I to judge that?  Who am I to think that ought to be taken away?

I used to think public assistance ought to be cut; I’ve definitely reconsidered that position and have arrived at a completely different one.  Why?  Because I met real people who had lost their jobs, and I met other real people who were too sick, depressed, or in pain to work.  These are real people.  Who am I to cut their livelihood?  I gladly give my own tax dollars for them, so that they can eat, and sleep with a roof over their heads.  They don’t deserve any less.  In fact, they deserve so much more.

I used to think abortion was wrong; there’s another stance I’ve changed completely (I’m all for choice).  Why?  Because I met and talked with some who’d had abortions.  They told me their stories.  At first, I recoiled inside.  But I kept my ears open.  I began to understand.  I began to see.  I learned something.  And I reversed that position. 

I used to think that guns were always bad.  I reversed that position, too, after learning of the 77-year-old lady who was home at the time a thug tried to break into her house.  That gun, as unpopular and politically incorrect as it may be, was the great gender equalizer; since she was properly trained and practiced (and a responsible owner), she saved her own life.  The thugs ran off, and she was unharmed.

Then I take stock of my life.

My partnership (marriage) is not a whirlwind, sweep-you-off-your-feet, head-over-heels, idyllic romance.  It’s also not chaotic, drama-soaked, violent, knock-down-drag-out dysfunctional, either.  It’s comfortable.  It’s familiar.  It’s also respectful.  After a few (really) rough patches, I’m learning to trust again.  It’s more accommodating and communicative.

I used to be very rigid.  My mom used to repeatedly remind me: “it’s not your problem” when I expressed distress over someone not living up to my standards.  I held (and still hold) myself to a high standard, and I expected everyone else to live up to that standard.  But things have changed.  I’ve realized that the world doesn’t work that way.  It doesn’t (nor should it) revolve around me and what I think is right.  I’ve become much more “live and let live”.  The world needs a variety of people, even if those people aren’t like me.  Tolerance, acceptance, and respect are where it’s at.

Not everything is black and white.  There’s gray everywhere.  Gray can be wonderful and vivid, adding variety and richness to life.  Gray is infinite; you can take two shades of gray and there will always be a shade in between, no matter how infinitesimal.

I’m getting older, and hopefully wiser.

I’m letting go.

I’m learning to see the beauty in the gray.

(Maybe there’s hope for this Aspie) 🙂


* The “A” stands for “Assertive” as opposed to “Turbulent”; the way I understand it, it basically means that, right or wrong, we’re sure of ourselves (lol)

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5 Comments

  1. Understanding and not judging can allow us to see multiple points of view. Increasing our experiences as you related in your piece can liberate us from closed, fixed positions that only result in division. Division is the Us & Them mentality perpetuating ignorance and intransigence. It alienates.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊. You’re absolutely right. I feel much better and more “connected” since becoming more open. I’m rather enjoying it (as I’m sure are the other people around me). Division stinks, and I’m seeing our media, educational institutions, politicians, and just about every other influential source perpetuate this division. It’s insidious and subtle, but it’s there. I think that most of the more “closed” people are victims (of sorts) of this phenomenon. It takes an (unpleasant) awakening to transcend it. I’m not sure I’m completely done yet, but we’re all works in progress 😊❤️

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  2. INFP myself on all tests, though the F is relatively borderline, especially when I have my work brain engaged. 🙂 Which, of course, should not be confused with emotions, which are all over the place for me and difficult to sort out. Rather, I place more emphasis on personal concerns and other people when making decisions rather than facts and objective standards. It’s the only one of the three that’s really borderline for me. N and P in particular are off the charts.

    Of course, that means I tend to often find grey even in the black and white. And it means my views can and do shift. Sometimes from my own mind tearing them down and rebuilding them, sometimes through the people I meet. I expect that to happen.

    When I actually do hold a belief, that does generally mean I think contradictory beliefs are wrong. I think that’s pretty natural since even if you acknowledge that you’re likely wrong about some significant percentage of beliefs you hold, you don’t know which ones are wrong at any given moment and nobody can constantly examine and question every single thing they believe in every given situation.

    But yeah, I’ve changed a lot over the years and I expect to keep changing over time, even if I don’t know in what way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love hearing your insight! I’m with you; my thinking used to be so black and white that I sounded draconian lol. But with time and experience, I’ve mellowed a lot and opened myself to new ideas and perspectives, and also more flexible thinking 😊 I’m an INTJ, although my T and J are less fixed than my I and N 💞✌🏼️

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