I sat in my office, which faces a hillside of woods on my rural property, and looked at yet another morning that was dawning in gray. After wondering what an avowed sun-worshipper would do spending part of December in the lower Ohio River Valley — a well-known cloud magnet from November through March — I found myself jotting down a poem title in my journal: “The Beauty of Gray,” and writing some verse to go with it.
That led to a whole brain-dump on all the beautiful things about gray — which, I might add, is not taken as such a beautiful thing by a society hell bent on staying “forever young.” Well, it’s been a long time since I realized that youthfulness is an inside game (though I still try to out-youth the youths on race day in various road races!), but I’ve never in my life pondered the beauty of gray.
Until today. A few things I came up with, all of which are germaine for working writers and artists:
1) Gray is the most mysterious color in the spectrum. Is it Black? White? A combination of all colors? A washing out of colors? What happens behind all those shades of gray? Mystery and discovery are the lifelong bedfellows of all writers who want to sell their works and grow as people. Gray is the color of mystery.
2) Gray skies portend contemplation, solitude, reflection — necessary components for any working artist, musician or writer. I know that when the skies turn gray and stay there, I tend to write more, think more and dive deeper into the essence of whatever subject or character I’m writing about. I may complain about the weather, but amazingly, it results in a lot of production — in my case, because there’s no sun, which for me is synonymous with fun, sport, gardening, recreation and relaxation.
3) As I grow older, I am looking more and more at gray-haired people for their distinctive, distinguished qualities. Gray hair distinguishes people. One stops fixating on their obvious signs of beauty and looks deeper, into the quality of a smile or expression, distinct lines on a face, the wisdom that rolls from their mouth or is reflected by their actions. I’m of age to have gray hair, and I’ve been genetically blessed that it’s still blonde-brown, but you know? I’m looking forward to it now. Gray hair is beautiful for those who are comfortable with it, and express that comfort.
4) “Shades of Grey” by the Grateful Dead was a favorite song of mine 20 years ago. Now I realize what they were saying.
So there it is — a first-ever look at gray. Time to head back into this gray day and see what the afternoon writing session brings.