The dilemma of the anxious

"...start thinking in gray"

My husband is fond of a quote about the futility of publishing poems: "like making love to a sleeping woman."

I won't make you read any, but I do write poetry.

It comes out of a delight with language. I'm often stopped entirely by a phrase, as I did with the phrase above. It epitomizes the dilemma of the anxious. Rigidity of thought, an inability to "set shift," is a strong characteristic of those predisposed to eating disorders - and their families.

An anxious mind seeks rituals and clear rules. Ambiguity and nuance are a tough sell for a mind tortured by repetitive and exhausting thoughts of calamity and wrongness.

I appreciate that phrase because as a daughter of two races I chafed at the terms people wanted to call me - "mixed" "mulatto"... or worse. As a teenager I chose another word: grey.

And of course, moving toward age 50, the color gray sparkles back at me in the mirror more every day.

I love the phrase above for its poetry, and poetry only touches us when it communicates something true.

Thinking in gray strikes me as a most profound sign of healing. A marker of wisdom. A delicious secondary benefit of recovery, and of witnessing the recovery of a loved one.

(It bothers you, doesn't it, that I used both grEy and grAy in this post. So there. They're both right, depending on where you're from. case in point.)


  1. It did bother me LOL. Good post though, it's something I work on constantly.

  2. I didn't even notice the grEy and grAy until you pointed it out. Probably because I spent part of my childhood in the US and part in Canada, so both felt totally right. It is all perspective.

  3. Oh well a touch of grey
    Kind of suits you anyway
    That was all I had to say
    And it's alright

    I will get by
    I will get by
    I will get by
    I will survive
    - Hunter/Garcia

  4. talk about nuances: the one thing that i never like about this metaphor is the colour grey. or gray, for that matter :) as a person of mixed ethnicity, you're not grey! as a person of mixed ethnicity, my daughter isn't gray! how can we turn the grayness into a rainbow?

  5. Oh, but who is to say that "white" or "black" or "yellow" or "brown" have more of a claim to beauty than grey? I think gray is beautiful: the silver of aging hair, siamese cats, silver, moonstone, clouds - it has all the shades between ebony and ice - it is what we make of it - and no two grays are the same.

    I embrace gray as a concept, as an emotional flexibility, as a metaphor.

    I rebel against the constraint of being any one color. To me, gray is BOTH, neither and more.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts