January 27, 2020

Shades of Grey

Don’t worry this has absolutely nothing to do with that book…….! I remember as a stroppy teenager, feeling so strongly and so deeply about everything and anything, positive beyond any shadow of a doubt that life was black or white, and disgusted and appalled when it was suggested that this was not always the case; that people, ideas and actions aren’t always clear-cut, that the waters muddy and the truth may be more of a shade of grey. I felt that this more moderate viewpoint stemmed from cowardice, fear and a sign that you were getting old and past it! Then, of course, as I grew up and experienced more of what life threw at me, I changed my mind, believing that it was too one-dimensional to categorise everything as either right or wrong, good or evil, ugly or beautiful, true or false….the list goes on. Life was complicated, people were multi-layered, and their motives sometimes hidden, even from themselves. I suspect that’s how most of us see the world, and I am sure this is a valid outlook. But this middle road, this looking at life as various shades of grey, although open-minded, sensible and tolerant, lacks the passion, excitement and daring that I felt as a young girl.

Recently I feel a shift in my consciousness, and I wonder if I am on the road back to where I began. Some things demand to be black or white; there is no halfway house, no middle road, no shades of grey. Some things demand that you take a stand, pick your side and stop sitting on the fence. State your terms, defend your ideas and change the world.

 As an older woman, society seems to expect me to start taking a back seat, to look forward to a time when I can retire and spend my days watching adverts for stairlifts, eagerly awaiting the delivery of microwave meals straight to my door, whilst paying into a funeral plan to save my family worry when I pop my clogs. Because of course, as this older woman, I must have no more ambition, no hopes or dreams, content just to live life vicariously through my family and television. I am not prepared to do this. I have not and will not give up on my life. I am not in denial at getting older. I welcome the opportunity to be an older person – I know too many people who died before their time, and so to dread getting older is an affront to their memory.

But I do challenge society’s perceptions about getting older. It isn’t a failure to grow old, neither is it something to hide from. It’s every bit a part of life as being a baby, a child, a teenager, or a young adult. If you are on a spiritual path, then surely there is even more significance, as getting closer to death means preparing to take that next step according to your beliefs? And yet it’s as though ageing is something to push away into a corner, ashamed and terrified by the spectre of lines, wrinkles and grey hair!

For me, as always, Tarot comes to the rescue. The Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana, the intrigue of the Court Cards, the variety displayed in the four suits, the magick and the mystery inherent in these cards, heals, inspires and motivates me to remember who I am, and what I believe in. And that we all can make a difference if we are prepared to make the effort.

“It annoys me when people say, ‘Even if you’re old, you can be young at heart!’ Hiding inside this well-meaning phrase is a deep cultural assumption that old is bad and young is good. What’s wrong with being old at heart, I’d like to know? Wouldn’t you like to be loved by people whose hearts have practiced loving for a long time?”  ~Susan Moon

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