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Tue, Jan. 28

A little gray is OK

A wise man once told me, "Everything is not always black and white. Sometimes you need to find a gray area." The gray area being that middle ground somewhere between OK and not OK.

Growing up, it was pretty easy to figure out right from wrong. My parents were honest people who taught us the same values. Being that my mother could read a lie on our forehead, we did not often try to "get over" on her, as children. However, as teenagers we did our best to get away with whatever we could.

As we get older, we either become very strong people with opinions to match, or we don't. I know there are those among us who rarely have an opinion about anything. I, on the other hand, was writing "Letters to the Editor" when I was in my twenties. I was opinionated and rarely changed my mind about anything.

I am the first to admit that I was very rigid and disciplined about way too many things. Often times I expected others to live their lives in the same way. I remember even being serious as a youngster. Finding a gray area does not happen overnight, and for some it does not happen at all.

As the years have passed, (far too quickly, I might add), I have actually found that a gray area does exist. I know now that things are not always black and white. I have not only realized that "never say never" has meaning, but often find myself passing that on to younger people. I still have strong opinions, but have learned that sometimes it is best to keep them to myself. At my current age I do my best to avoid the drama that can go along with disagreeing with people. Sometimes winning an argument does not make you a winner.

If the presidential election did not prove that people can be divided based on their opinions, I don't know what would. Religion and politics have always been two things that can stir up a family argument faster than anything. Do you really WANT to spend the time with the people you love trying to change their mind about things? Picking your battles is something you learn by living longer. Things that you thought were utmost important may suddenly not matter at all. Your values do not change, but the order of importance certainly does.

I have always tried to do the RIGHT thing. If someone does me wrong I no longer feel any need to pay them back. I now leave all that to karma and figure they will get theirs in due time. Forgiveness is something that also comes much easier as we age. You either decide to keep someone in your life who you know is a bit sketchy, or you don't. You either accept them and remember who they truly are, or you can choose to just stay away from them.

My mother used to say, "You can pick your friends, but not your relatives." Make the choices wisely. Being right is not always as important as just KNOWING you are. Is it really necessary to prove the other person wrong? How big is your ego?

Making mistakes is certainly not confined to young people, either. I now know that there is NO age limit on making mistakes. By now, we can only hope we are not making the same ones.

I used to be compared to Judge Judy years ago. I took that as a compliment. She was strict yet fair. Now, I see her differently. She often shows a negative attitude that may have NOTHING to do with the case in front of her. If you are behind on child support, for instance. She often takes an automatic dislike to you and will likely rule against you. I think Judge Judy is still looking for her gray area. After all, she is not in a criminal court and doesn't have to stick to the letter of the law.

There was a saying when I was growing up. "Being a LITTLE dishonest, is like being a LITTLE pregnant. You either are or you aren't!" Can you imagine for a moment if someone were to take a lie detector test and it said, "Could be fibbing. Check for fingers crossed." How about a pregnancy test that said, "Not sure." (I had to throw that in.) Though I won't argue about the pregnancy thing, I believe that we are all capable of a little dishonesty. Hopefully, your conscience will guide you accordingly. Hard as you may try, none of us is perfect. We need to always remember that we are flawed. If you go to bed with a clear conscience in knowing that you have tried to be the best person you can, that's all you get.

In closing I would like to say that having found that gray area has made me much more tolerant of others and their personal opinions and life styles. Forgive quickly, laugh often, judge less, and help another whenever the opportunity arises.

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