By Tiffany A. Potter
Most days this is where I live, in the gray. The older I get the more acutely aware I am that life is not black and white; but rather, a perpetual shade of gray. We’re most always living in the time between “now” and “when”. When I become successful. When I find the right person. When I make enough money. When I have a family. When, when, when. As if the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow ends at “when __________.”
Living in the gray means that some days life is a darker shade; more morose and heavy, laden with sadness and worry. Other days life, and the shades that represent it, feel as light as air. Black (as life always contains a little bit of it as we age, perpetually looming over us with the loss of loved ones, financial troubles, and all around anxiety about this life we’ve got to work with) mixed with the brightest of sunshine and cloudless skies, when things just don’t seem so bad comparatively. It’s those light gray days we wish we could hold on to forever. Not a perfect day or perfect life (as no one has one), but a beautiful one represented by flashings of the brightest white with only hints of black droplets mixed in.
I just returned from a week-long trip to Los Angeles for work followed by three days farther south, in my old home of San Diego. I always have mixed emotions when I return to my city. Spending time in San Diego, more so with the people still there, keeps me grounded. The city and my most amazing friends humble me in a way that nothing else does. I oscillate between wanting to move back down there tomorrow to be with them and content that I have left that city and its experiences in my past.
My time in San Diego was the epitome of gray; I just didn’t appreciate it then. The four years between the end of my marriage and the beginning of the next chapter, when I moved back to Fresno, was all gray. And I wish I could have lived in those moments more. I fell victim to fixating on my pain and my ideas of how great life will be “when”, that I didn’t pay enough attention to the “now” as I was experiencing it in real time. I lived as if something better was right around the corner and I just had to be patient; I needed to keep moving forward filling my time until. Turns out though, there wasn’t something better! I had the best for that time in my life, right in front of me. I was living it every day and I practically missed it.
Reflecting back as I drove through my old neighborhood, I was flooded with memories of that time. That time when I was grocery shopping for one, before Costco cards became a necessity and a hassle. That time when my one bedroom apartment in the center of everything that mattered to me, was heaven. That time when my running course as I trained for a race took me to Balboa Park and back whenever I so chose to put my running shoes on and go without a second thought of dinner times and menus. That time before back problems and adult bills to be paid. That time when every Saturday morning was reserved for breakfast at the beach with my girls, when we would talk politics just as much as we would talk the dates we had gone on the previous week or where we were going that night to dance. That time in my life when I was wholly unattached to anything or anyone outside of myself, my cat, and my career; and it was glorious, only I didn’t know how much so at the time.
Those gray years molded me and shaped me into the fiercely independent woman I have become, but it’s not something I ever could have planned. Mother Universe seems to have a way of gently directing us to become who and what will best serve us, regardless of how foreign it may feel at the time; and perhaps it will only make sense when you look back over your shoulder.
Currently I find myself thinking “I can’t wait for when my company is self-sustaining.” or, “I can’t wait until I’m officially an international disability consultant” or, “I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to move to Mill Valley”. But in looking at life this way I’ve come to realize that I’m at risk of missing the beauty of the gray again, the beauty of today, of this very moment. This time between “now” and “when”; if I’m not careful will completely pass me by again, and wouldn’t that be a shame?
So loves, I offer you this; slow down. Relish the moments that are in front of you. Be mindful of what you have right now, practice living in gratitude. Never stop growing and dreaming big of course, but also, never busy yourself so much that you miss the little wonders. Breathe. Take it all in. For if you allow it to be, gray, in all of its shades, is a beautiful place to live, full of your most beautiful high highs and low lows that merge into the life experiences that have made you who you are. If you’re lucky enough to live another day you will have acquired a bit more happiness and peace; and a bit more sadness and loss (it’s unavoidable) and that’s okay. Find the beauty in the gray, it’s there; and appreciate where you are at this very moment for some day you’ll miss it and as much as we wish we could make it so, the clock doesn’t turn back.
Tiffany is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and change agent. Find her at: www.TiffanysTake. com. Instagram: Tiffanys_Take.