Wednesday, January 17, 2007

That gray area

While walking to the bus this morning, with the sky dark before sunrise and the last snow bright beneath my feet, I was wishing that another storm would blow through and bring more snow before the last of this melted. Then I remembered that I have a poetry reading tomorrow night and slicker roads might make it hard for people, including me, to get there.

I was stuck between opposing desires—or between a desire for more winter wonderland and a fear of slippery conditions. I was in the gray area.

I thought about how much of life is bounded by extremes, and how usually one end or the other has its own discomforts or impracticalities or dangers.

We can either careen between those ends or try to find some comfort in the middle. Only I find it isn't very comfortable in the middle—an ambiguous territory of consensus and compromise. It is continually changing, and it requires constant small adjustments—like being on a balancing board. Mostly wobbly.

And yet, I suspect that the gray area, the shifting middle, is a rich creative source—that those tensions between the black-and-white extremes can yield the most original ideas, the freshest images, the best chance to see a little more of who we are.

I find it's hard to stay there, and I readily accept distraction—television, wine, even the weather. What would happen if I didn't?

What might I do, write, find if I stay a little longer in the gray area between what I already think I know?

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