I live in “fat and happy” and commute to “iffy and subliminally dangerous” for work every day.
I want everyone to be able to live in fat and happy, but they can’t. Many can’t find fat and happy on a map. Hell! What’s a map?
Transitioning from home, to real world, and back again, is harder than I thought it would be when I was younger.
I was raised by farmers, on a farm, schooled in an agriculturally savvy school system, and imparted morals and standards of conduct by Christians and theists of a, more-or-less, Judeo-Christian ethos.
I was well prepared for Sunday and tractors.
I was not prepared for sketchiness of any sort and forget shady, or dark, or even indifferent. I was in for an education.
Uncle Sam helped by providing me with my undergrad in “world” during my stint in his yacht club. Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America were some of my electives. During my salty travels, I walked, smiling face first, straight into the right hook of reality.
A whole world of varying perspective opened up. At first I hated it. Felt it was wrong. Felt like I needed to get above it, beyond it. Then, after many bruises, it dawned on me. I do not have to win. Life is a forge, not a game board.
I started letting my contacts with differences educate me, quickly and recklessly at first, then more methodically. Questions became the key.
In the beginning, I’d ask myself if my differing thought was good or right. As time wore on I began to ask if my thought was useful or encouraging.
I found many a folk that, at first glance, my inner farm boy balked at, only to consciously engage them and find incredible value in their perspective. I also found folk that, based on their action, were to be avoided in most situations due to their self, and other, destructive tendencies.
Main lesson? There is incredible value in difference. There is value in tribe, kith, and kin, due to groups understanding their relationship and organizing principles on an uncouncious level, but cultivating interface with “different” brings beauty and usefulness from places not previously known.
So how does a self perceived “white hat” commune with a world in which white hats have gone out of style?
By being gray on the outside.
Never be too good, never be too bad, but do maintain a critical, yet curious, nature and mine the differences for wisdom and value.
Hold your principles dear, but do not ever press a stranger into your frame, chop off what hangs out, and glue the fragments into the gaps.
Gray is an interface. Gray is an open mind, capable of combating true darkness on the outside, and an open spirit capable, of embracing beauty and truth that has filtered through to the inside.