"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
shad-ing Function: noun
1 : the use of marking made within outlines to suggest three-dimensionality, shadow , or degrees of light and dark in a picture or drawing
2 : the area between one choice and the other, neither black nor white.
A friend said this evening that he is living in a gray area. He said it like it was a good thing.
Personally, I have no idea how he stands it.
To me, things are very clear cut. There is good, and there is bad. There is nothing that is both, it's either-or.
The idea of living with classifications that are infinite shades from one end of the spectrum to another fills me with fear and confusion. No, I need the structure and order that definitive classification places on my life and my world.
It is probably because of the fact that for all these years, I can't trust what I feel about something. Today, I may like it, tomorrow it may be tiresome or even bad. If I can classify it logically, pin it to the board rigidly, then I can act consistently no matter what my mood du jour happens to be.
A therapist once asked me to write down the rules in my life. When I delivered the list to her, it confounded her. I had everything on the list from "I must always choose the good of others over the good of myself" to "men never drink with straws in restaurants."
Yeah. I had everything ticked off and catalogued and color coded in a black-white color scheme.
After my wife had known me only a very short time she picked up on this. So when I told her that I loved her she knew it was forever for better and for worse, even before we were married. Several times while I was a travel agent she let me go on cruises with me and sixty women. She knew I wouldn't cheat, and I never did. It just would not ever cross my mind.
Commitment is commitment, 24/7/365. That's how I feel about it.
Black and white, like everything else.
For a brief period while I was sick, I managed to escape the walls I had erected around myself to constrain me. It felt wonderful, free, exciting.
It was a complete and utter disaster.
I will never do that again. I am far more comfortable in my world of walls and lines, defining and dilineating, familiar barriers that protect me from myself. Barriers and lines that are never to be crossed under any circumstance, never to be moved without earthshaking reason. And that reason can never be "because I want to."
You see, none of us is cut off from the whole. We are all interconnected. I am connected to everyone in my family, my workplace, my friends, even to you right now as you read this. Decisions I make ripple down through those connections. What I do affects others, and at times it affects them greatly.
Looking at it like that, the gravity of the situation sinks in. "What I want" seems to pale, to me, in comparision to my responsibility to all those people tied into my web.
So I set my boundary markers, in stone. "You shall not pass," they say to me, and I don't.
If I allowed my life to become shades of gray, when would I know where to stop? I wouldn't.
I have to have that marker.
The line in the sand must be drawn and never crossed.
Just black and white.
Morality, like art, means a drawing a line someplace.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)