Living with shades of grey

This time of year, I think about the color grey. I wonder why sometimes it’s spelled “gray” and sometimes “grey.” I wonder if it says something about your personality if you spell it one way or the other. I’m in the “grey” camp.


Black and white photography isn’t black and white at all, it’s variations of grey. The painting often called “Whistler’s Mother” is actually titled “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1.” In black and white movies, few of the sets or costumes were actually black or white. Movie professionals learned how different colors would “read” as black or white. Actors may have been wearing a lush green dress, a tailored blue suit, a feathery red hat — and you know the New York taxi they jumped into was yellow. We know that about our surroundings in Southeast, too, that the greys only reflect the greens, blues, browns, reds and yellows of the trees and birds and houses and waters that create our landscape.

From granite grey to foggy grey, our eyes move from the muddy grey of the waters to the dappled grey of the tree line, up to the pale greys on mountaintops, across the moods of grey that is the kaleidoscope of the sky. Depending on your own kaleidoscope of moods, the greys can be beautiful or depressing, breathtaking or monotonous. To live in Southeast Alaska, you have to make peace with grey.

Life itself is a journey in greys. The black and white of childhood (this is good, that is bad, I like this, I don’t like that, I love you, I hate you) give way to the reality that most of life falls in between the stark opposites. Shading our choices, our comments, our relationships with variety and contrast, and accepting that times will have more light or more darkness helps us to make peace with the grey in our lives.

When the greys of life weigh us down, when it all begins to seem monotonous and compromised and depressing, remember the colors behind, above and among the greys.

• Reverend Sue Bahleda is pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church, located at 10th and Glacier.


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