There are always shades of gray…

Last evening we watched a deeply moving film. The title was, “Mrs. Lowry and Son“. I highly recommend it!

As “artists” we were intrigued with the story, impressed with the cinematography and acting by both Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall. Even thought the subtle, but adept directing by Adrian Noble produced a work deserving of awards.

And, intrigued, I must add, we were mesmerized at the resilience of the protagonist, L.S. Lowry. No spoilers here, just an urging for you to watch the film for yourself.

Both of us grew up in modest circumstances. Modest! Now that is a euphemism, but I won’t go deeper. And Lowry’s subjects were the ordinary things, people, and events around him.

However, and this is more to the point, how each character in the movie chose their unique perspective of their own circumstances and those around them was compelling and educational.

We do this too. We can choose which shade of grey to highlight. Which spot whereon our eyes land and linger. We can choose to see others as insignificant or unworthy, or we can see everyone and everything around us as kin. And … if we choose to see their beauty though others all around us miss it, we are the better for it.

I don’t miss much that is my past. But I do dream of my first “home”… A very different place to grow up in than what was portrayed in my first “readers” titled, “Dick and Jane.” These two imaginary children were purported to be from a family all of us 5 and 6 year olds could identify with. It was a bill of goods.

I spent my early years in a Boarding House–not a Boarding School–where I learned to read by the time I reached my third birthday. Not that I could actually read, but I was read to by all the older adults while my mother was out earning our keep. It was an idyllic childhood, though definitely nothing like “Jane’s”. No siblings, no Daddy coming home and lifting me over his head and calling me his “Little Rutabaga.”

By the time I finished kindergarten I had read all the Dick and Jane readers, and the school gave me the lot. Now that I remember that gesture, I wonder what the point was. These were not books that I wanted to reread anymore than I wanted to be like the Bobbsey Twins. Though my mother bought me many of the books in this series.

And yet I can remember these stories as some kind of modern fairy tale, full of “morals” and social mores that we children should imitate … mostly to fit in.

They didn’t work on me. I think they did partly shape the thinking of many of my cohorts.

Some of whom would proudly boast as adults that they never read, now that they didn’t have to. Preposterous!

All this to say that some days, like today, another grey spring-like day in January, I get nostalgic. Not for the “old days”. Good heavens, no.

I get nostalgic for the space, time and permission to read to my heart’s content, to spend hours engrossed in drawing and painting, with making tarts, or drying the dishes while Aunt Lexie did the washing up in that old, porcelain kitchen sink the size of a dinner plate, but rectangular.

That Boarding House was where I learned about community, about receiving food, things, people, life in general, as it came in its unvarnished realness. I also learned that resilience can be found in the “arts” and acceptance of what was right under my nose.

And I would have to say that is why I need to write, to draw, to paint, to make … useful and beautiful things. I hope you find time and space in each day to do that too.

Thoughts in Night Quiet

Seeing moonlight here at my bed,
and thinking it’s frost on the ground,

I look up, gaze at the mountain moon,
then back, dreaming of my old home.

Li Po

One thought on “There are always shades of gray…

  1. Thank you for guiding us to see the beauty in the shades of grey in our own lives, by sharing yours.❤

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