Embrace the Gray

Gray comes in many forms. Gray skies. Grey mood. Grey hair. Even in two spellings. 

Grey can come up quickly, or slowly transition and you don’t know how it got here. A mix of black and white, light and dark, or shades and tints of color, gray is a dull silver. Gray doesn’t shine and is sometime mistook. Gray hairs that sprout through dark ones on the face or the scalp, often aren’t really gray. It’s their unwelcomeness that makes them so.

How do we deal with gray? We pluck, we dye, we try to fight. “Don’t let the grey day get you down.” Gray is a subtly evil force, trying to seep through the holes in our fishnet of happiness, squelching the light spaces of hope. “I’ve lost my youth, my verve, my sunshine,” we think. “I’m not who I used to be,” or worse, “who I thought I would be.”


What if we could embrace the gray? Let the unknown be. Don’t lighten or darken or dye. Breathe in and breathe out amidst the waves. What might that feel like? Aren’t we looking for answers from life, or at least relief?

I’m afraid, too. I have yearned for the energy to write that next song, to apply for that dream job, to talk to that someone. Sometimes I don’t know why I can’t take the step. Fear is like a gray blanket, blocking out the light because I think I’m blinded. Who could see through all that possibility?

Even though I don’t want to admit it, there’s something comforting about the grey fear. When there’s a sliver of hope, I believe it’ll make me bleed. That it’s a trap. That if I really go for it with abandon, I will be abandoned.

That’s where faith comes in. You don’t have to be religious to have faith. Perhaps you identify faith with naivete. Go ahead. The age-old question arises, would you rather be “realistic” and depressed or naïve and happy. Don’t choose the first option. You deserve better.

Embracing the gray could mean more darkness, at least in the short term. Other people’s judgment. Letting go of “standards” of beauty. Letting go of a pattern of pretending. Walking in the rain on purpose. Taking sick time.

I’m not advocating for not treating depression. When the grey is too dark we need help. But when the clouds roll in, and experience tells you that they will roll out again, but while they’re here, there might not be much fun, or warmth, maybe don’t run away. Start a conversation:

“Hey, Grey. I see you there. You have sapped my energy; I’m feeling down. Not sure where to start on this project. Trying to ignore you, but it’s not working. So…how’ve you been? What’s up? You seem blue, Gray. Come give us a hug.”

The tears may flow, but you can swim. Trust your intuition—can you just put your toes in the water, or your whole foot? Do you need to call someone to swim with you? That’s okay. You’re not here to go alone. Call God. Phone a friend. But perhaps don’t ignore the gray and imagine it’ll just go away. Reach your arms out and welcome Grey in. He or she might not stay as long as you thought.


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