Black and white, or greyscale

One of my favorite songs is from Everlast, it’s called “What It’s Like.” From the first moment I heard this song, it stuck with me … it speaks to me on some very deep levels. I’ll also be honest and say that this is perhaps the only song, other than “White Trash Beautiful,” that I know from Everlast as a solo artist. I wasn’t a fan of the group that launched him to stardom, House of Pain. I vaguely remember that he had some stress with Eminem, an artist I’m also not very familiar with. But with some artists, regardless of their selected style or medium, there is an ability to reach out from the confines of their image or style, an ability to touch people of all kinds and at all levels. With this song, I consider Everlast to be just such an artist.

It’s this song that usually replays in the back of my mind while thinking about the deceptive nature of polarization. I’m not certain that polarization exists, except as a concept that represents the combination of our urge to judge quickly and inability to make firm judgements on the infirm foundation of greyness. This is part of the reason why I have long-since opted to not make judgements – preferring instead to estimate, as estimates are a whole lot easier to change and adapt when we find out we didn’t know the whole story to begin with.

Oddly enough, as I sat in a bakery this morning and conversed with the lady sitting across the table from me, “What It’s Like” is what was playing on the radio. Five minutes beforehand, she was standing outside, begging for money. I don’t give money to beggars, it’s a policy of mine based on the rise in popularity of pimps forcing people to beg in the streets. I do, however, give food to some beggars; and this one, based on how I observed other customers reacting to her as they walked into the bakery, I decided to invite to breakfast (not much more than a roll and some juice, as I didn’t have much money on me at the time, either). I didn’t know this woman, and I still do not know her story (I didn’t ask, and she didn’t volunteer to talk about it); and I am not banking on ever seeing her again. However it dawned on me as we parted paths today, that things are not always so clear-cut, so black-and-white as they might appear. What might she have gone through, to reach the point in her path where she now finds herself? What might she still have waiting for her, further along her way? Our universe, despite our conceptual limitations, is not black or white, it’s greyscale and ever-changing. It’s fluid. It’s not for us to build lasting judgements as we go along, we are at our best when we understand that the moments we live in (no matter how lofty they may be, for those other customers I observed in the bakery), are fleeting.

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