All Those Natural Colors Between Black and White

by | inspiration, musings | 3 comments

One of my favorite minds is that of Derek Sivers.

He has a way of cutting to the heart-center of things, making a point in the most concise manner imaginable.

If you’ve been following this blog, you may realize this is not my style. I’d love it if it were (at least more so), but wonder if the way we write is simply one of those things like handwriting; it is changeable, but is the changed thing really ours?

Derek’s writing inspires me—I’ve never seen someone with such a knack for both creating and distilling brilliant ideas and philosophy.

In my most recent post, I didn’t feel like I hit the mark in expressing what I was trying to say. I reached out to him for advice on how he would have done it. His rework, of course, is amazing. I wish someone would write a computer program for an automatic Derek-Distillation-izer.

I’m going to refrain from saying it’s “better,” because what is better or worse when it comes to expressing thoughts? What it is, though, is a way of reframing the words so many more readers can connect with them.

Derek has a huge following primarily due to the inspiring way he thinks, but also because he is able to relate his thoughts to nearly anybody. My writing, with its flowery words and drifting thoughts, is probably more suited to a smaller audience (which I love very dearly). I write for me, at any rate, and I can’t explain the delight I feel when you tell me you relate.

So, without further ado and with Derek’s permission, I am posting below his rework of Continuum: What Do We Say When Things Are Okay?

All Those Natural Colors Between Black and White

by Derek Sivers


We tend to think in black-or-white: putting all actions, things, or thoughts into a binary good-or-bad category.

It simplifies. It helps make quick decisions, though not good decisions.  It over-simplifies.

It starts in school, when we’re praised for doing good or bad, passing or failing, praise or condemnation.

It continues in the working world, where the only time we hear feedback on our work is when we do extremely well or badly.

But what about all those times when we’re just chugging along, doing our work, doing okay?

And forget work, what about relationships?  Are we often over-simplifying our friendships and romances into “it’s going great” or “it’s not going great, therefore it’s going bad”!

But life is a continuum.  All of the wonderful colors of the world exist in that spectrum between black and white.

If you notice your natural thoughts, they’re all over the place, nuanced, conflicting and co-existing, without needing to be pushed into a good or bad box.

When we leave the school and corporate world and become self-directed, we need to deliberately stop the black-or-white tendency.

If our work is making progress, but not finished yet, we don’t need to kick ourselves.  If our relationships are normal and healthy, we we don’t need to create drama that pushes it into good or bad.

We need to be okay with things being okay, and enjoy all those natural colors between black and white.

ripples on water continuum

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment!

And if you don’t know who Derek is, do yourself a favor and check out more of his writing.

Share This