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The Third Choice: I had no idea there was one

By May 24, 2010June 2nd, 2010How To

This (image to the left) is a tile that I have in my home. It sings the praises of the Cancerian. I know that because I used to have the one that, in equal measure, called out the, how do I put this nicely, the ‘non-desirable characteristics’ of the Cancerian. (I say ‘used to have’ because I chucked it after realizing I didn’t want to spend my days – or time in the bathroom as interior design would have it – staring at the things about myself that I’m not particularly proud of.)

Interestingly, however, the ‘bad’ tile didn’t just take these ‘good’ characteristics and flip them around – the artist came up with new downsides like: ‘selfish’ and ‘demanding’. (As if) But they could have just done the flip, really.

For instance, where the good tile says, ‘home loving’, the bad tile could say, ‘hides in her bed when she’s sad’. And ‘devoted’ would be ‘tends to fall in love with a ferocious, all in, passion’. And ‘encouraging’ would be ‘gets really pissed off when people don’t see that if they just listened to her advice and DO IT already, they would find massive success in a matter of minutes – so sometimes she yells at them to encourage them’. ‘Compassionate’ equals ‘can’t see, hear or think about another creature (human or animal) being harmed without unbearably feeling every ounce of their pain’.

And, then, of course, there’s ‘tenacious’. On the good tile this is meant to impart a steadfastness, a strong will, fortitude, power.

The good side of tenacity

Six years ago, I was ten years into a horrible, seemingly irreversible case of IBS or spastic colon or shitty digestive system (depending on which doctor you spoke to), when I happened upon a book called The Body Ecology Diet. I took the test at the beginning of the book and I scored off the charts. And I was thrilled (because I like to win) – but what I scored high on was candida, the bad yeast that causes a lot of dis-ease, including all of my horrid symptoms.

So, being the tenacious crab that I am, I dove in at mach 3. I followed that book to the letter. No wavering, no cheating. I was the Gestapo of the candida cleanse. And it worked. After seven weeks and then some ongoing diet changes, I was (and have been for six plus years now) symptom, pain and hell free (where my stomach is involved, of course).

But the bad side, have mercy, the bad side.

This hardwired unflagging, indefatigable, immovable force demands a sturdy, decisive path – one that can hold up under its drive. Like that book and the diet: there was no wavering, there was no kinda, no sorta. You did it or you didn’t. Yes or No. Go or Stop.

I don’t like yellow lights. They make me nervous, with all their indecision. ‘Maybe’ makes me want to rip out my hair. Shit or get off the pot? Yes! I mean, what am I supposed to do with ‘maybe’? You know how when you say you’re afraid of heights and people ask if you’re afraid of jumping or falling? Well, I’m afraid of the part in between the high spot and the ground.

Why is this bad?

As it turns out, the world is full of this free floating place. Because of a maddening lack of control over the universe. Because some decisions aren’t up to us. And because, sometimes, neither choice (yes/no, up/down, go/stop) will give us what we want.

And, so as uncomfortable as it is, ‘neither’ is the answer sometimes. Grey is the place to be, today. Can one be tenaciously grey? I’m bound and determined to find out.

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • bencurnett says:

    Holy shit! Great log! There’s a little splattering of everything, with just the right sense of urgency. It’s messy, but this post bowel-ed me over.

    Okay, terrible (!) puns aside, I love this. As an unreformed libra (who likes long walks on the beach and thunderstorms, et. al.) I live in the grey. But (and that’s not a pun) I’ve made a deliberate effort to choose. I mean, actually going through a step-by-step deliberation process, deep breaths, and then choosing, cognizant of the whole thing. Following a strict plan. Like your diet, so goes my process of making decisions.

    A long time ago, I realized I needed more cancer in my life. Never thought I’d put it quite like that, though. Thanks for the post, Julie.

  • Julie Roads says:

    My post is messy or this whole concept is messy? (Cancers are very sensitive…cough, cough).

    Funny…I do currently have a little libra in my life. Who knew that could help a bit.


  • Siddhartha says:

    I struggle with the gray too and here’s why: I find I can see both sides to an issue, can empathize with both parties in a disagreement, can see benefits to almost any logically thought out course. But eventually I just need to do SOMETHING. And because I can see both sides it’s hard to decide which course to take.

    I think people of action are successful not because they’re always making the right decision, but because they’re always making a decision. They may appear to see the world as being too black/white, but they get things done which is more than many of us who see so many shades of gray can’t say.
    .-= Siddhartha´s last blog ..Do People Really Get Happier With Age? =-.

  • PicsieChick says:

    Ack! The grey, the grey, the many shades of grey!

    Okay, yes, I am a Libra, and yes, I often see both sides to the story, the benefits of two completely different courses of action, the downside to every argument….
    …and, curiously, I’ve been tenacious and unwavering in many a decided path (often to my detriment, but that’s a different post)

    As much as the wavering and not knowing and not having control parts can be hard, can feel alien and unfinished and tentative, they can also be beautiful. Sometimes from that center ground you can see more of the story on the “yes” side and understand more of the logic on the “no” side.

    And every once in awhile, there is a different option that isn’t yes or no or maybe, sometimes it’s something you had never thought of before: yes for this part *and* no on that other part; or maybe it’s purple, or brunch, or a tandem bike ride. The trick to grey is realizing that it’s actually every colour, and you can still pick one of them that feels the best.

    And that is just beautiful.

    Hugs and butterflies,
    .-= PicsieChick´s last blog ..Balanced on that Moment in Between =-.

  • Tammi Kibler says:

    This post resonates with me. I am pushing myself to find solutions, make decisions and take action.

    S*** or get off the pot! I need to hear more of that. :)
    .-= Tammi Kibler´s last blog ..Write Now – What If Perfect Never Arrives? =-.

  • Todd Jordan says:

    Cancer by birth, and interestingly, though I don’t believe in ‘the stars’ I have a lot of Cancer characteristics.

    I’m often the guy calling for others to decide or get out of the way. Go or don’t go but don’t hesitate to make either decision. I push myself to hold up to that standard as well.

    There’s a huge upside to this. Less wasted time and less regrets.
    Downside? Humans aren’t good with black/white, this/that. They like grey/the other thing choices. :)

    We go on. We endure. We succeed. Sometimes we just are.
    .-= Todd Jordan´s last blog ..Diluting LinkedIn with Twitter =-.

  • Andi says:

    I SO can’t do gray! OMG, I am all or nothing, do it now and move on. Stop moping, stop complaining, just get over it and do it already! We are soul mates!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Rewards Based Doing =-.

  • Gail says:

    I don’t do gray, either. So much so that I prefer bad decisions to no decisions. I make decisions without all the information that I could have had by waiting a while because indecision is so painful. (Now I’m in pain because I can’t decide if this is all that I have to say on the subject, so I’m going to end the post, which may be premature, but a bad decision is better than no decision.)
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..Inheritance is insanity. You get it from your family in a cardboard box. =-.

  • Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Julie,
    Years ago I was an ambitious young Training Officer helping to run courses for front line supervisors. They included a topic called Problem Solving and Decision Making.

    We used to teach that a decision to do nothing could be quite legitimate in certain circumstances, particularly where an ill-informed decision could cause more and bigger problems than the one you were trying to solve.

    You have to be prepared for abuse from the impetuousie. They’ll accuse you of procrastination. and indecision. And they may be right. Tough!

    I’m old enough to know that there is no black and white, only shades of gray. Be as tenaciously gray as you believe the occasion demands. Be absolutely decisive about only one thing: making sure you have fun.



  • Kerryqp says:

    I am a Gemini. I make decisions impulsively, then change them after some time and research or simply because I feel like it. I am open to all opinions, then ultimately form my own. Gray is my color because I can take from the black and the white and make my own way in the gray. It’s not indecision, but flexibility and compromise. Its how I open myself to the universe to hear the conversation and take action when I need to…not necessarily when its expected of me.
    I love my friends and associates who live with absolutes, they inspire and impress me. I love their confidence of conviction and support them wholeheartedly.
    I also love sitting quietly in the background and forming my own opinions. making decisions when I’m ready and following through in my own time. I only answer to me.

  • Dave Doolin says:

    I nominate you to be Blogistan’s Ambassador to Google.

    First order of business: “encourage” them to make up their damn minds already. Switching everything around makes us crazy!
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..Estimated Reading Time Plugin : Sharpening the stick (technical tuesday) =-.

  • Julie Velez says:

    I’m learning to be okay with the grey. It’s sort of this Zen thing I’m into at the moment. I actually get really impressed when I just allow something to be ambivalent and just sit there where I can observe it with my chatty brain. Odd, but it makes me feel like a grown up.

    That’s beside the point because what I actually came here to do was to tell you that I’m hella impressed- with your writing skills and with your ability to stick to THAT DIET for 7 weeks. I have the book, but needless to say, I didn’t make it 7 weeks. Way to be. I’m glad to know it works, too. I might just have to give it another go.

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