la vie en gris
Let me explain. This is not a diametrically opposed view from the traditional “la vie en rose” perspective, i.e. viewing life with rose-colored lenses where everyone/everything is the best it can be. This is actually a perspective that espouses the happy middle… that everything is not always black or white, on the contrary, most everything falls in between, the gray area.
Let me explain some more. For Lent this year, I wanted to go the chicken route. No, not eliminating chicken from my diet. More like I-don’t-want-to-deprive-myself-of-any-food-route, my draconian diet already doing a fine job at dictating the inherent deprivation necessary to shed the pounds that automatically accumulate when your food is good enough to eat. So I chickened out and opted for a mental Lent. My choice was gossip. Yes, even though I try to be a good girl and not whisper mean comments about the latest actions of the social bitches present almost everywhere in life, I too succumb once in a while and give in to the utter pleasure of pointing out other people’s shortcomings. Sure it makes me feel superior about mine, but inevitably it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, hence the Lent choice. I figured a good 40 days would cleanse me for good or at least offset my quota of big-mouthedness.
I tried. I really tried. I kept replaying the familiar mother-mantra “if you can’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all” in my head every time I was asked a question or a lull in the conversation indicated that it was my turn to chime in. I resisted. I really did. I said “interesting” a lot, a nice little ambiguous word that would indicate interest yet keep my real opinion a blur. But eventually I succumbed. Eventually is actually a euphemism for really fast: I failed at Lent on my second day. Even giving up French fries had fared better. This was eye-opening to me. I wasn’t physically capable of not talking about others for more than one day! Was I doomed to be a bad girl all my life? I am an adult, how can I not be able to control myself for more than a day? Worse, I realized that eliminating gossip altogether set the stage for a full-on, no holds-barred narcissism. So the battle between Me, me, me versus They, they, they was set, and apparently They, they, they won.
In an effort to save myself from eternal damnation, I started thinking about the impossibility of this Lent choice. No Lent allows for complete elimination of ALL food, ALL sustenance, right? So eliminating ALL gossip should be therefore equivalent, no? We are a social species. We ARE! Otherwise, why am I writing this and sending it for all cyberspace (okay, fine, arguably a few people who will perhaps stumble on this maiden post by random happenstance) and not in my cozy little private diary? Every chance we get, we reach out to others and allow others to influence us. There are very few true hermits amongst us, and most often than not, we qualify them as genuine nutcases (and they often are) and either ignore them or persecute them. The rest of us are so enmeshed in each others’ lives that we cannot finish a single conversation with one another without quoting, mentioning, or generally referring to someone else. I don’t want to be a social outcast, I’m already socially awkward enough to be on the borderline. But more importantly, I have opinions that I want to share. I don’t want to lie (that’s another sin for an entirely other blog) so what am I to do? The solution hit me like a ton of bricks: La vie en gris!
Gray has always been my favorite color, aesthetically (I’m starting to realize I am a lot deeper than I initially thought.) That was a very judicious choice, because gray is the perfect color for everything! Happy medium, everything in moderation, meet in the middle, take-a-penny-leave-a-penny, it’s ALL about the gray. When you can’t do without one or the other, take them both, dilute them with a little paint thinner and voila! You have yourself the gray area. Case in point, my Lent dilemma: Don’t hold back on your gossip, just dial down the nastiness and the judgment and, presto, it becomes FACT (Fact is not gossip, it’s entirely acceptable.) Don’t talk about yourself all the time, nobody cares. Just alternate and dip into both black and white, and you’ve got yourself the perfect shade of gray.
La vie en gris, not too shabby…
* comics courtesy of toothpastefordinner.com