Life isn’t black and white

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Source: Image editz: Harish De Hamilton

There was conflict everywhere. Cannons fired, bullets shot. The place was chaotic. Each blow was devastating. And both units didn’t seem to back off. 

The fight went on for several minutes as I sat in the middle of the battlefield watching everything happening. But something shocked me. The war ended abruptly and everyone in the battlefield turned toward the right with wide-open eyes. I wondered what was there. I turned around and what I saw shocked me.

Ice-cream in shiny bowls. They were in a wide variety of colors white, pink, yellow with shiny toppings. Our lower jaws fell flat, tongues salivating. Yeah there I was, sitting with my friends in an ice cream parlor, waiting for our orders where I witnessed my friends waging wars on who is a better leader? Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.

This happens all the time, From Theists vs Atheists, Gymming vs Calisthenics and the most popular one of them all, Vegans vs Omnivores.

We argue endlessly without arriving at a solid conclusion. We come up with more and more “proofs” to back our claims hoping to convince the other guy. But has that ever worked out? Not in my diary…

Life’s never a head or tail thing.

Simplicities are enormously complex. Consider the sentence “I love you”.

Richard O. Moore, Writing the Silences

We view life as either heads or tails. Either something is good or bad. Smartphones, Good or bad? Social Media, Good or bad? Drinking, Good or Bad? We find ourselves stuck to classifying something as good or bad. But it’s much more complex.

To prove that things aren’t as simple as they seem, let me give an example,

We have all been told to the point of monotony, that meditation is good for health. But what if I told you meditating an hour daily is more likely to bring chaos and confusion in your life? What is meditation made you only anxious and irritated? Let’s consider a scenario.

Krishna’s commute adds up to 2 hours/day. He works in a typical 9-5 job, exercises an hour every morning and is a single parent of a 7-year-old kid. He fills his day with commute, work, exercising, helping with the kid’s homework etc… From the moment his eyes lifts its curtains, to the moment he face plants his head on his pillow by 2300 hours. Amidst this mess, he plays with his kid every day and is contented with his life.

One typical morning, his best buddy John, calls him up and raves him about the how meditating an hour “changed” his life. Krishna decides to give a shot at it. He started waking up an hour earlier every single day. And the results where nerve-wrecking.

Sleeplessness took a toll on his body. He was angry, overwhelmed and was dissatisfied with life almost all the time. After an exhausting day at work, he rests his butt on the sofa staring at the ceiling cursing “I hate this life”. Out of the blue jumps his joyous kid, who pesters him,

“Let’s play dad!”

“I am too tired son”

“Daddy please daddy. Daddy please…” For the next 2 minutes the poor kid went on until Krishna put his requests to a halt with a sudden screech.

“Enough! Get lost already! I wish you were gone. At least then I would be happy.”

Within microseconds the little kid turned pale, he put his head down walked out the room without saying another word. Only seconds later did Krishna got a grip with the current situation. He went to apologize, found his kid, sitting all alone in the balcony, looking at the stars he said,

“I wish Mom was here.”

And that’s the voice of a lonely, orphaned kid despite Krishna’s presence.

Let’s rewind.

Why was he angry? He was sleep deprived.

Why was he sleep deprived? He was waking up an hour earlier every day to meditate.

But we all know that meditation helps us stay calm but it wasn’t the case here. Now here’s the question,

Do you think meditation is bad? Just plain yes or no?

And you know that any answer to that  question would simply be meaningless.

Then why is everything in this world black and white.

I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.

Walt Disney

No two people are the same, and they differ in their physical abilities and in a considerable amount with mental performance, perspectives, goals and ideas.

Here’s a classic example

Two men were in a bar in Alaska drinking and talking about God. One of them said:

“Look, there is no God and I’ll prove it. Just a few weeks ago I got caught in a blizzard without any supplies. I was surely going to freeze to death. So I decided I would try out the whole God thing. I got down on my knees and prayed. I told him if he saved me, I would promise to always believe in him.”

The other man looked at him perplexed, “Well, you’re here, right? He saved you!”

The man replied, “No he didn’t. Some Eskimos came by a few minutes later and picked me up to take me back to town. God did nothing.”

Can you ever reply that one man was wrong without being biased? No, you can’t. It’s just too complex with too many variables involved.

With any article/ video/ information that you consume, it’s just someone’s take on something. A new perspective to understand things much better. And they have simplified it in order for our brains to understand them, not to take it as an universal truth. Nothing else, it was never a “perfect” solution, and it never would be.

Removing the lens of black and white

What influences our behavior, and what our level of responsibility is, are very complex issues. And anytime we try to make this simplistic, we don’t serve people well.

John Ortberg

When we realize that viewing things black and white, allows room for error to creep in, generating bad beliefs which finally ruins our lives. Things are complex than they seem, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start thinking about the cosmic effects of eating noodles on sunday afternoon.

It’s the middle, that sweet spot that we are aiming to attain. Stopping to perceive things black and white helps us achieve that. The less we judge, mutual respect develops inturn generating deep meaningful relationships. We humans are complex creatures with conflicting interests and poor victims of confirmation bias. 

This helps you handle conflicts much better, shaping your molten beliefs into an unique identity. Having friendly debates is useful, but pushing our beliefs into someone? Now that’s awful.

“Ideas are soul sucking parasites. And there is no point in fighting against something lively for something that rests in our minds.” 


Don’t make any belief an integral part of your identity. Religion or Philosophy, whatever it may be, they are double edged swords. Use them to your advantage. Bruce lee was the best example who embodied this idea.

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not and add uniquely what is your own.”

Bruce lee

And his life is a great example. He never stuck to one form of fighting style. He only picked up what is useful and personalized it.

And whenever you find yourself fighting with someone of a contradictory belief, calm yourself down by reminding yourself that it’s never black and white.

And have this quote always at the back of your head,

“Reason is easy, being clever is easy. Humiliating someone in the wrong is easy too. But putting yourself in their shoes, kindly nudging them where they need to be, understanding that they have emotional and irrational beliefs just like you-that’s all much harder”

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