I’m sure you can think of other things (Newspapers! Milkshakes! Penguins!) but these were just the first two that came to mind. Plus, have you ever had a black & white cookie? No, I don’t mean an Oreo.
Anyway, we’ll save the chat about dessert for later.
Some other fun things can be black and white, but you know what shouldn’t be? Thinking.
Sure, there are exceptions to this too! (See what’s happening here?). There’s a meme going around saying something to the effect of we’re able to be kind while also disagreeing. Yes. Totally on board for this. Except when someone’s disagreeing about things like human rights. I can’t be kind to someone who believes it’s cool to lock kids up in cages or attack Black people just for being Black. I can be respectful and not harmful to your person, but I’m at the very least giving you a dirty look and walking away. The “isms” (racism, sexism, etc.) and the “phobias” (homophobia, fatphobia, etc.) are not okay. That’s black and white. Ism and Phobias bad. Understanding and inclusion good.
But most things really aren’t that simple.
You wouldn’t know that from some of the news stories floating around these days. I was talking to my husband about the wonderful Dr. Fauci who must be so stressed out these days. I want to give him a hug, if hugs were allowed these days. Can we throw him a massive party when this is all over? I’ll bring the black & white cookies (LOL. No but seriously, they’re really good).
In the span of one day, I saw an article that was about how he’s an alarmist and we should all just chill. Then, there was a commentary on his praise of the vaccine progress and encouragement for people to get one when it’s available asking if he’s too optimistic. Insert palm to the face emoji here.
The probable truth? Dr. Fauci is neither an alarmist nor too optimistic. Those options are the extreme, one or the other options, and rarely do things fall into that category.
Unrelated to COVID times, we do this in our daily lives a lot.
Think about it. How often have you fallen into the habit of thinking a situation is all good or all bad? We do it a lot, because as people, we like when things are clear and fit into “boxes”. Ironically, most things don’t. There’s always another side, even if it’s not one you agree with.
Why does this matter?
Even if the “other side” isn’t one that you agree with or resonate with, it still exists. Understanding it, even if you don’t personally accept it, can help you relate to and have more compassion for others. It helps you realize that there could be another way of looking at something that is just as valid as how you originally saw the situation.
This is one small step towards practicing tolerance and acceptance, which is something we’ve talked about a lot lately and hopefully are still including it in daily discussions. You aren’t always right. I know, crazy. I have a hard time with that sometimes too. Unless it’s science or math, there’s always another angle or another way to come at a situation. Common ground is often found by listening to someone else’s point of view and asking questions rather than immediately treating it as wrong because it’s different than yours.
Take what we’re experiencing today.
I hate the pandemic. Hate it. I’m done. Please let me know how I can assist the scientists working on the vaccine. I’ll send coffee, wine, snacks, you name it. Need some free therapy? I GOT YOU. Anything that will make this be over faster.
But at the same time, I’m grateful for it. The “pause” has allowed me to reassess some things in my own life that weren’t working and adjust accordingly. As a result, my life after COVID will be better. I might have gotten there on my own, but it would have taken a lot longer and I probably would have been a little more beat up by the time I realized it.
Rarely is anything all good or all bad (see examples above of exceptions!). Black and white has no place in anything except for a nice looking penguin and the cookies. But it’s okay if you don’t like the cookies. I don’t agree at all but I’ll totally accept it and still think that’s a valid perspective. A weird one, but a valid one. (J/K! Kind of. They’re so good!)
Rachel is a licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Wellness. She gets most of her inspiration for the blog while on the run, and if you ever need to find her, she’s probably in Central Park. If she’s not running, you’ll find her planning the next time she’s going to eat, exploring all things wellness in NYC, or raising her stress level by watching her sports teams.