Sixty: Shades of Gray

By Lori Ross | April 6th, 2015

Publisher Lori Ross reflects on life as she turns 60.

As this issue hits the stands, I turn 60. With every adult decade change, I reflect on how I’m different from before. One change I’ve noted this decade is that I see more things less as black and white, but more as shades of gray.

As a child of a middle-class, intact family and Catholic school, rules of living were laid out as black and white. We memorized Baltimore Catechism and learned the difference between venial (lesser) and mortal (greater) sins. As a child, my world was an orderly, understood provider of moral clarity.


In my 20s, due to what may be excessive empathy in my personality, experiencing a larger world beyond my neighborhood and just generally being part of the generation experiencing massive cultural changes, I began to second-guess some of my child’s black-and-white rulebook. I was uncomfortable with that. Many times I hated that I felt I could argue both sides of an issue. It was like driving without a compass (before GPS, of course). I felt inferior to those who had solid convictions.

Enter my 30s, 40s and 50s.

As I grew into myself and became a solid citizen grown-up, things became more black and white again. My sister and I would ride in a car and solve all the world’s problems. Answers seemed obvious, and we couldn’t understand how others could be so blind to the truths we saw so clearly. Yet it also became obvious that others didn’t march in lockstep with us. And, because nobody listened to us, of course the world still isn’t corrected.


As I turn 60, instead of continuing on that same path of certainty, I have come to realize again that things rarely are black and white, but mainly shades of gray. Personal morality has some absolutes, but fewer than I thought. Everybody comes from a different perspective based on year and place of birth, racial and religious histories, family makeup, genetics and such.

So with the history I earlier shared, the back-and-forth, I may see the world differently than just about anyone else.

Going into this decade of life, however, I’m comfortable with who I am and the positions I hold – without any expectation that others be like me. In the large mosaic that makes up the world, I represent just one tile. It would be a boring, dull picture if all the other tiles looked just like mine.

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