Black, Grey and Stretchy


   These days, there is an awful and depressing trend toward wearing black and grey stretchy fabric, all the time. A tendency to get caught up in the current trend of dressing, thinking, expressing and living. It seems there is an even heavier push to blend in with the crowd than when I was growing up. To look a certain way, to have a certain body type and if you don’t, you just do not belong. To have this job, or own this house, to be popular. To be THIS is the ultimate! No! Wait! Be THIS. Do THIS. Think THIS. No, Wait! Do THIS! Think THIS or You Do Not Belong! You Must Belong, Be Labeled, Categorized, Catalogued and Filed.  Be black and grey, or black or grey, but you cannot be red or yellow or blue because that is not black and grey.

   Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her book “Mother Night, Learning to See in the Dark,” describes the story of “The ErlKonig,” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. She tells of an evil elf whose sole desire is to capture and kill those children whose spirits and souls are filled with creativity, with beautiful differences which set them apart from the rest of the world and can bless the world.  She tells of parents and communities who unwittingly give their children over to death of the creative soul, the lively spirit. Children are taught, inculcated, and brainwashed with a false doctrine called “Fitting In.”  In a parent’s own blind and desperate yearning to fit in, to belong and be accepted, their children suffer and “die.”  

Here is Edgar Alfred Bowring’s translation of The Erl-Konig

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
For many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;
'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care;
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King, his daughters, has brought here for me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
For sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread, –
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.


    No matter what life you choose, there will be a price to pay. There is a price to pay for living a creative, expressive life. Usually, you are described as “different”, in a kind way. Perhaps you are labeled as a loner, a private person who tends to keep one’s self.  And, the price of not belonging can be an exorbitant one, if you let it be. I choose to live a creative life. I chose to let my daughters grow expressively and creatively. I hope I taught them how to take their bumps for being different, for not belonging. I hope I taught them a few skills for thinking, living, creating, for being and living differently. Skills for not letting the bland and general world-thinking invade and take root, potentially destroying a life of fulfilling their God-given creative joys and spiritual gifts.
    We all have choices regarding how we live and the right to our viewpoint on all things.

    I choose to look for good all around me. It is a daily choice, sometimes moment to moment. People, the world, the place I live, the landscape of my life is what I choose to make of it. I choose to see good, to see beautiful, to see harmony and the positive side of everything possible. I choose to eschew thoughts and actions hurtful to my life.  Oh, like any one else, I have “those” moments where I get taken in, sidetracked, ambushed and tricked. Usually, because I am not paying attention. But, I try not to tarry long in dark places.  I tend not to linger in the company of people who are not solid in their desire for growth in heart, spirit, and soul. 

   Creating a world you can live in, thrive in, a world which belongs to you individually is not for the faint of heart. It means accepting one’s differentness and not being fearful of not being accepted, or popular or understood.  My world is solid and expansive. It is stable and ever growing. It is full of light and color and, by my own choice, what shadow and darkness manage to get in become tools for further growth, more creating. I have to learn and grow. I must learn and grow spiritually and creatively, or I suffer, I am unsettled, fidgety, disconnected, adrift.
   Even so, in the midst of suffering is sometimes where learning and growing take place, where blessing can be found in abundance. You have to know what you are looking for, it is there. Every day I learn, again, how to take a stand for myself. It is not a battle or a struggle. It is growth. It is.”Ah ha!, Now I see!”

   The black and grey and stretchy world is not for everyone, either. But, so many have never been shown their choices. They believe it is just the way life is because they have not experienced anything else. They do not see their real worth to the whole, and that real worth comes in their individuality and their joy of discovering it. I believe that is why so many people are adrift, lost in a blended and faded land of All The Same. They join in anywhere they are accepted, not thinking about if they really want to be in that place physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. They join in the hollering of “Diversity!”, “Individuality!” from every street corner yet, they holler as a group, a gang, a legion.

   They are very busy yelling. Too busy yelling to be about the business of just hauling off and being different, and in that difference, blessing the world.