I’ve been scanning old prints and negatives into my computer to preserve them. Some of them are in pretty bad shape since they were stored in boxes in a damp basement. You may have even noticed them in some of my posts. They were the ones with all the lint and color that wasn’t quite right.
I was going to color correct them, but to me they’re almost like antiques that lose their value once they’ve been restored. So I left them.
A couple of days ago I ran across a binder filled with black and white negatives. The pictures were of similar subject matter as the color negatives so I didn’t really pay much attention to them at first. Besides if I studied every one of them while I scan them I would never get anywhere.
It was a losing battle, though. Once one of them caught my eye I needed to look at all of them. And something about the lack of color made them different and mysterious.
Because not one of them were just black and white. There were also varying shades of gray. Shades of gray…
No, I’m not talking about the book or the movie.
I’m talking about how much simpler life would be if it was simply black and white. No ambiguity. No perspective. No shades.
For some religious types life is that way, but I wonder. They throw around the ‘mysterious ways’ phrase a lot when black isn’t so black anymore and white looks like it’s been through the wash a few times.
We all want to know unequivocally how to live our lives and what to do in every situation, but it doesn’t work like that. Every one of us cuts corners hoping to get away with it and most of the time we do.
Until we don’t.
Then we either take a minute to reevaluate and self-correct or we keep going until we crash and burn even harder.
Those are the gray areas. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe we start out with no hard contrast. Instinctively we know what we should do, but there is no code, no hard and fast rules. As we go along the gray areas either darken or lighten until we have black and white.
Chances are, even if we live a nice, long life, we’ll still have some gray areas in our picture, but nowhere near as many as when we started out.
And everyone’s picture is different. We certainly couldn’t apply our gray areas to someone else’s picture. No one’s black and white is going to be the same either.
And that’s okay. The trick is to find other people whose picture is similar to ours, but not to get too bent out of shape (self-righteous, judgmental) when they’re not or if they don’t change at the same rate as ours.
Everyone would be a lot better off if each of us concentrated on our own gray areas and maybe what we have in common. Because no matter what our differences are we’re still human, we’re still the same underneath it all.
We’re still trying to find the black and white of life…