Black and White

It’s 1:15am. I’m telling you because I can’t post this now, I’ll have to wait till tomorrow morning. I’m still at the River House, but I will probably be heading home by Wednesday. This is, perhaps, the latest I have written a post since I began this blog over a month ago. Last night, I had my post finished before 8pm. Usually, I have them done by 11pm. But tonight…well, I guess I just got caught up with what I was doing.

I don’t fault myself for it. I could easily berate myself and say, “why didn’t you finish this sooner?”. But I won’t. You might not care about this, but I do. The reason I care is that I have often been someone who thinks in black and white. Oh, I may have professed tolerance and open-mindedness and all sorts of other platitudes, but in my heart and in my brain, I couldn’t accept things that didn’t fit into the way I saw the world. Most of the time, this didn’t make a lot of difference in my day to day life. But it expressed itself subtly.

For example, in college I had a class at 10am. I had to leave my house at a quarter till 10 to get there on time. I woke up, looked at my clock and it was 10:05am. I had a choice. I could have gotten up and gotten ready and gotten there a few minutes late. But instead, because of my black and white worldview (and because I was, in truth, lazy) I felt that I either needed to be on time, or not show up aat all. So I just didn’t go to class that day.

I told that story as if it were an isolated incident. In fact, I have done that hundreds of times in many similar situations. Like having an assignment or project for school or work and not having done it as well as I’d like…instead of just handing it in, I have, many times, just called in sick or skipped class in order to not have to turn in something that I knew wasn’t good enough.

This applies in other ways too. I would say that I tolerated all religions, creeds, sexual orientations, races…etc. But inside, I held stereotypes, I discriminated, and, most of all, I shunned those with beliefs that were too firm, those with real conviction. I discriminated against these people because there was no way that I could reconcile the contradictions between the beliefs of a devout Muslim and a zealous Christian. I didn’t want to have to try to fit each of their ideas into my head. So I avoided both. And, most of all, I held no convictions myself. I let go of any strong belief. I told myself I was being tolerant and accepting, when in fact I was just avoiding having to tie myself to any particular ideal too strongly.

I know, in some ways, why I chose to view the world this way. I chose this apathetic black and white point of view because it was “easier”. It was easier to just filter out things that didn’t fit. To say, “Well, I don’t really know anything about life, so who am I to judge anyone else’s beliefs” when what I really meant was, “don’t talk to me about that stuff because I don’t want to have to think or talk about it”.

So now you know why I care that I am not upset with myself for writing this post late at night. Because, you see, in the past I would have just said, “well, I didn’t get this done when I wanted to get it done, so I just will wait till tomorrow, or I just won’t do it at all”.

And that, my friends, is much more dangerous than staying up late.

Because if I let that kind of rigid, uncompromising thinking into my head, if I accept that type of reasoning as valid…I put myself in danger of losing everything I have worked for over the last 35 days. And it is too much to lose.

Yes, in the future I will probably plan my nights a little more carefully so that I don’t have to stay up late to work on a blog post (or anything else). But if I do end up having to work on something late at night, I am resolved to accept that as a possibility.

In fact, I am resolved to accept a number of possibilities. I will accept whatever time we choose to leave the River House, regardless of whether it aligns with my expectations or personal plans. I will accept unforeseen complications of my body, such as coughing, headaches, waking up early, and stomach discomfort. But I will also accept the possibility that these things are not inevitable. For example, it has been over a week since I have had any sort of stomachache whatsoever. Before I started this Wellness Quest and changed my diet and many other habits, my stomach was perpetually upset and painful. I thought that it would always be that way. That it had to be that way because of my CF. But I am learning now that all these black and white preconceived notions I have had about the world for a long time are just flat out wrong.

So if I choose a new way to view things, and choose to see everything in a rainbow of colors rather than pure black or white… making that choice gives me power. It lets me take hold of my life and my circumstances rather than remaining a helpless victim.

It is almost 2am now. And I need to sleep. So I will leave you with this question: are there any things in your life that you have accepted as black and white? All or nothing? Are there things to which you have resigned yourself? If so, ask yourself if those things are holding you back, or putting you in the position of the victim.

Put simply, are you letting your life live you, or are you living your life?

Right now, I am choosing to live rather than be lived. And, now, I am choosing to go to sleep!

Goodnight everyone, and thanks for your support.

-Nathan

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