Black & White & Gray…


This week’s calligraphy prompt was to only use black and white and gray, no other colors. I was amazed at how many times I wanted to pick up a color and had to stop myself. I thought about how to differentiate between blacks and gray while using the white space of the paper. The only words that came to mind were the words to the song Black & White by Three Dog Night. I included the words from the first few lines in the piece. The final product is actually four pieces of paper tiled together, each one repeating the first line of the song in some form or fashion. I included a close up shot below.


I was reminded as I worked today within the black and white arena that not much in real life is black or white. Most of life is lived somewhere within the gray. The media work to divide us and constantly remind us of the labels we all live within, or should I more accurately say the label ‘they’ want us to live within; however the world is rarely that easy to identify. Like sheep we get herded into our own corners or into groups of like minded sheep. We jump the log in front of us and the sheep behind us jumps the log, remove the log and the third sheep will still jump. We follow each other blindly assuming that the one in front has the answers, never asking ourselves if we are doing the right thing.

We learn what we learned from the first sheep and all too often believe it without question. ‘That’s the way I was taught.” “That’s how we have always done it.” “They are different than us, so they don’t understand us.” All of these statements keep us divided and prevent us from learning or being compassionate towards someone who has not had the same life as us. We work to stay within the lines of black and white and avoid rounding our edges to include or even consider an alternate option. We are the third sheep that still jumps even though the log that was the obstacle has been removed. We don’t want to believe it, but we want the world to be black or white because it is easier to process.

It is easier to believe that what we think is right and the other side is wrong until we really listen and hear their side of things. When we see the world from their perspective, walk a mile in their shoes, suddenly what we thought was easy to identify – wrong from right, good from evil, happy from sad – is no longer black or white, it is really differing shades of gray.

Maybe today your challenge is to see something in your world from another perspective and celebrate the gray tones; they add values and shadows and nuances that black and white cannot provide.

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