Most of us can agree that this world is made up of opposites. Up-down, in-out, hot-cold, sweet-sour, and male-female are easy examples to understand and this list goes on and on. These dualities are most clearly divided at the extremes. It is at the extremes where life gives us a clarity from which we can make our choices readily. Life makes sense to us when the extremes can be compared in such a black and white manner. It becomes more confusing when the black and white starts turning to grey.
Our physical world is set up in this dualistic way. If we look closely we can learn greatly from observing nature and gain insights into our humanly existence. We can all see that days and nights have opposing characteristics. Day is with light and the night is without light. But, there are those in-between times called dusk and dawn where it is difficult to say if it is actually day or night. Is there an exact cut off time during dusk and dawn when you can call it either day or night?
At what point after the sun goes down do you officially call it night-time? At what point before the sun officially breaks the horizon do you call it daytime? These are moot points to most of us but they demonstrate that there are grey areas within our physical world that we can personally correlate with our conflicts of opposing values. How would you resolve an argument between people who had different opinions on matters such as this?
The same could be said for a lot of other dualities. There is an in-between zone with temperatures where we perceive that it is really neither hot nor cold. When does sharp suddenly become dull? When does young turn to old? There are many instances where we have a ‘neutral zone’ that can be said to negate the strict interpretations of black and white terms.
As much as we may try to box life into clear-cut categories, we will always fall short. When we attempt to view life in cut and dry terms we end up boxing ourselves into a rigid way of thinking and feeling. Our abilities to resolve our differences becomes more difficult and we can negatively impact our effectiveness. The more we learn about the grey areas of life, the more we see how it shapes our earthly experience.
The author of The Davinci Code, Dan Brown said, ‘I love the grey area between right and wrong’. It is here where the actions of conflict or cooperation takes place. It is here that our world of emotion can be uncovered. The grey areas of life allows us to choose sides and form our alliances. It is here where we can become enemies of our opposers. So much of human interaction is lived in the grey areas.
With our individual perceptions, there is always going to be differences of opinions which can lead us into conflicts. So much of the conflict in our lives are experienced in the ‘grey areas’. It happens so often when there are different perceptions that conflict over who is right and who is wrong. It is when we refuse to see the grey that we become unable to be successful with those that see things from an opposing viewpoint.
We all have our perspectives and we should honour it. We all have a right to share our opinions with others. We are all a small piece of humanity but we are just as important as any other small piece. We limit our abilities to contribute to others when we refuse to see the grey. We limit the contributions that others can make to ourselves also.
There is a downside to becoming enlightened to seeing the grey in this world. When we see that life really can’t be judged in a pure black and white perspective, it makes us have to subjectively evaluate the grey area situations on a case by case basis. I believe that this is what makes life so difficult. Life becomes less certain and with that can come more anxiety if one is not grounded in a belief system that helps them be centred.
Is the grey area of life to be embraced or ignored? I believe that there are many lessons to be learned from embracing the grey. It is here that we will learn how to resolve our many differences by seeing their true creative potentials.
Scott Trettenero’s recent book, Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values helps readers learn about themselves, others and how the world works because of our differences. Scott has maintained a solo dental practice in Southwest Florida since 1981. His research on quality service in dentistry and his interest in human temperaments formed the basis for his first book, Unlocking the T-Code. He is married and has two children. You can follow him on Twitter @