Fifty More Shades of Grey

Yes, reader, I’m one of the millions who has been swooped up by the curiosity storm that is Fifty Shades of Grey. And it has me thinking about, well, lots of things – many of which I dare not share here.  If you’re a self-described prude as my neighbor is, fear not, it’s not what you think.  This is not a shock-jock type of post.  Nor is it a literary review.  There are plenty of other forums exploring this cult-like explosion and what it means.  Which is why I want to ask, ‘What do you mean, what does it mean?

Does the book’s crazy-big popularity have to point to some dire deficit in womankind – or mankind? Do we really have to pull out the holier-than-thou judgment card?  Experts will have you questioning your motives, doubting your core stability, worrying over betraying a secret desire, and making excuses for why you did or did not enjoy the book.  The bottom line is this:  there are as many different acceptable reactions to Fifty Shades of Grey as there are, say, shades of grey.

Which brings me to my story.  It’s a very different story than the one referenced above.  It involves a seven-year old girl, a first-time mother, and a rainy day….

My daughter and I were driving along on the kind of day that makes me want to curl up under covers with a cup of hot tea and warm pajamas.  The rain came and went and threatened to return.  My daughter stared out the window blankly, sharing a similar distaste for the weather – I thought.  “I’m so glad we have color in the world,” she observed.  “I agree!  We need color on a dull day like this,”  I absent-mindedly replied.  Puzzled, my daughter disagreed, “No.  I was thinking how great it is that there are so many different shades of grey – the pavement, the clouds, the puddles….It’s beautiful!” 

‘Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!  I’ve been schooled by a child,’ I thought. (One of many occasions.)  Here I was, lamenting the effect of the sky on my mood and wrongly presuming it was  universal sentiment.  In so doing, I might have conditioned one unprejudiced little girl to fall into the trap of mindlessness.  Thankfully, she dared to contradict an elder with her impartial view of beauty.

It’s been said that the whole world can be seen clearly through the eyes of a child.  Since that momentous day, I’ve made it a point to let my children show me the world, reserving my opinions on most any topic until I’ve heard theirs.  It’s been my experience that their assessments are often more enlightened.  And the teacher becomes the student.

The most important thing I’ve learned from this practice is that I know nothing with certainty.  Well, not nothing exactly.  I do know my name most days.  But seriously, that’s where it ends.  I’ve grown fond of the notion that I am but a child, still, with much to learn.  Some days that means I need to see the world, and me, in a different light.  Which is exactly why I am grateful to both my daughter and to E.L. James for showing me the many, many shades of grey.

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