Gratitude Sunday: The Black White Game

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Sunday Haiku
Field of daffodils
lift yellow faces over
languid waving leaves.

Sunday Musings
When the son was little we played a game together. This particular game made his dad crazy and dad refused to participate. The son and I often found ourselves at disagreement. I would tell him something, and he would disagree, whether he was right or not. Several times of that and I said to him, “I keep telling you one thing and you tell me the other. It’s not just black and white.” After that if he disagreed with me I would say “white” and he would blink, because that was his cue for a reality check, and then he’d grin and say “black” and I’d say “white” and he’d say “black” and so on until we started laughing. This game became known as – wait for it – the Black White Game. I used it the other day when he chose to argue with me and he reminded me he was black and I was white. Inviolable rules of the game.

Seems like we are doing way too much of the Black White game these days. Oh, not the son and I, he grew out of that long ago. Now he is able to engage in intellectual discourse, sometimes with a fiery passion (where’d he learn that?), and acknowledge there are many sides to any question and not always an easy resolution for challenges. If the son should fail to check his facts before ripping out an attitude all I have to say is “white” and he’ll laugh, “black”, and check his attitude and his facts.

The Black White Game doesn’t work in real life; it’s only a reality check to alternative facts, and with little kids alternative facts are easy to make up in an attempt to get your own way, which any half-thinking parent knows better than to fall for. The Black White Game was a tool in our family to enable the son to do his own research and explore and grow into his own critical thinking abilities. It worked for us.

In life, it’s simply not that easy. There’s way too much gray. Not that gray is a bad thing, it just messes with that either/or dichotomy we try to fit everything into. If it’s not this, it’s that. It’s not so clear these days. You can’t say boy-girl, black-white, smart-dumb, rich-poor, Christian-Muslim, native-immigrant, able-not able, youth-elder, us-them; you can’t use any of those dichotomies anymore; they weren’t really valid in the first place. We all have our place in this world. As I said last week, we all have merit, we all have potential and abilities, we all are able to contribute, right down to the least of us.

Gray comes between black and white, oh so many shades of gray, so many kinds of people, so many broken cookies because the cookie cutter doesn’t work that well. Who needs a cookie cutter when there are so many delightful people out there each with their own abilities? When I say we are all able to contribute I think we need to apply gray to the concept of contributions as well. Contributions or production may be very different between individuals, according to ability. Every body, every story is different, with its own strengths and weaknesses.

With all that said, seems to me there are only a few rules.

Do your best.

Work as hard as you can as long as you can. Then do what you can when you can’t work that hard anymore.

Help others who have less and are less able than you.

Don’t hurt other people.

That’s pretty black and white, right? Well, no. My best is not the same as yours, but it’s just as good. My as-hard-as-you-can-and-as-long-as-you-can is different than yours as well, and since I’m trusting you are giving your all, you must return that trust and not call me a slacker because our experiences and choices and advantages differ. Our ability to work and give back has less to do with material goods and more to do with effort, but the folks who amass great wealth and hoard it, or worse lie about giving back, get under my skin. I see many people with little who share tremendous amounts and people who have great wealth and resent sharing any part of it.

Then there’s my oxymoron rule: Don’t judge others. You don’t know their stories.

I’ve just been going on about how people “should” behave. If all the shoulds, and the woulds, and the coulds got together and ran the world we’d have either a really fine or a really mucked up world. See the gray working there? I should behave this way, but I don’t. You should behave that way, but you don’t. Neither do they. Gray.

Look up at a stormy sky some day. Do you see one color of gray? If you stand there a while you will see many shades of gray, some of the colors might move over or into the others, or change shape. There will be so many shades of gray you cannot say a name for every color, nor can you tell where one begins and the other lets off. This gray blends into that gray blends into this gray. It takes all kinds. We are all connected, different but connected.

Some days I can look into the sky on the west side of my house and see nothing but white: bright blue sky, silver golden sun, white light everywhere. I walk to the east side of the house and the cloud is black, low and heavy with rain, dark as night though it’s mid-day. In just a few inches of difference we have black and white. And a whole bunch of gray in between. All connected.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Another shade of yellow daffodil. The perfection of white camellia. Yellow-red Oregon grape blossom. The pink rhododendron around my aquatic center that blooms before any others in the neighborhood.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Boss (2016, rated R) with Melissa McCarthy. I like McCarthy but sometimes her movies elude me. She’s funny, but occasionally she likes her jokes much more than I do; it’s like she hits you over the head with them (Did you get it? Did you get it?) and then carries them on so long I want to stop watching the movie. Humor should flow smoothly, and if you want to watch it again, you reverse and do so. Please don’t drag me through 10 minutes of a 2 minute skit. Just saying. * Stumbled upon Schitt$ Creek (2015, TV series not rated) on Netflix, with Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy of Second City Television and Saturday Night Live fame. A billionaire family loses everything except a small town the father bought as a joke, and the family is reduced to residing in the town. Small town vs the cognitive dissonance of wealthy lifestyle jokes abound, and in the 25 minute format of sitcoms, humor flows, and no time is wasted belaboring jokes. * Seriously though, I watched The Tempest (2010, rated PG) with Helen Mirren cast in the lead role of Prospera, and I loved how the gender change of the lead character worked so marvelously. I watched it with subtitles and now I think it’s the best way to watch anything Shakespeare. We are so far away from the language he used, but the way he used it is so stunning. I love the way they cuss and curse all the time without using the four letter words that are so hurtful to us now. Reading the plays are one thing, watching them live on stage is another, but putting the words side by side with live action for me made the language use so much more clear as far as meaning and context. Plus this happened to be a particularly well acted, and well filmed production, with direction and screen play by Julie Taymor. Recommended.

Currently ReadingThe Memory of Water (2014, speculative fiction) by Emmi Itäranta. War brought global warming rapidly upon the earth and the rising seas changed the coastlines and reduced the continents. The Scandinavian Union encompasses what’s left of Scandinavian, northern Russia, and northern China. Books are rare as well as paper, and old technology was destroyed. Water is the gold standard, and water crimes carry the highest punishments. Our female protagonist is a tea master, to which water is essential. I’m interested in what chaos will ensue. And I can’t help but wonder how prophetic this work is. * Ghostland: An American History of Haunted Places (2016, sociology/haunted places) by Colin Dickey. A first person point of view, thoroughly investigated with literary and historical allusions, clearly written stories, and the fun of following ghosts. What could be better? Photographs.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The kind staffers who listen when I call my legislators.
  • Running into a neighbor and hearing she is having health and income issues, and giving her some contacts to get assistance. When she admitted she had no idea what to do and was embarrassed to ask for help, I assured her everybody needs help now and then and this would help her stay afloat until she is back to work full time. Busting the myths of the “welfare queen”.
  • Squeaking by.
  • The squirrels who visit my yard and love the dandelions. They even dig up the roots to eat. I would be happy if they would venture closer to the house. They are welcome to eat all the dandelions they want. Free lunch on me.
  • Remembering how much I love language from Shakespeare on up, and wondering how prophetic Shakespeare’s words are if we apply them to our own times.
  • Thinking too much. It’s what I do.
  • The new acquaintance who called me a high-strung worry wart after several weeks of exchanging views, and knowing it was a compliment.
  • For all my complaints about Daylight Saving Time, once I’m used to the switch I enjoy the light in the evening. Maybe we should just never switch from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard time. That would give another control state to compare to the states that still switch back and forth. It’s the switching I don’t like. And the cat doesn’t get it at all. Can’t blame him. Pick one. Stay there.
  • Noticing the difference between years. Last year at this time after a warmish winter, most of the late winter blossoms, like the crocuses, daffodils and tulip were already done and early spring bloomers like rhododendrons were full on, and this year after a long cold winter (it’s still cold), the daffodils are barely started and tulip sightings are still rare. Such a joy when the color blooms.
  • Laughing at myself. Laughing with myself. And those times I crack myself up and nobody else gets it.
  • The couple of days that warmed up above 50 degrees this week. I love turning down my electric heaters.
  • Tomorrow is spring!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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One Response to Gratitude Sunday: The Black White Game

  1. piratesorka says:

    Its Spring she says.”HA”I say right back atcha. Why the hell did I have this HUGEMONGUS Thunderstorm over my head tonight in Gresham? It was the BIGGEST one I have ever been in one since a trip to Cherryvale Kansas. It was sooo flippin LOUD! BOOMBOOMBOOOOOOM. Almost like rapid gunfire.

    Gimme some sun, maybe even a light spritz of rain, THEN it will be Spring.

    Like

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