Tenting within the grey zone: a case in opposition to black and white mentality


Emma Leaning / SHINE

Take an important part of life and paint it a color. It is grey. It’s gray because everything that makes sense is complicated, and every different shade paints a different picture. There’s no effort in identifying something uniquely because we don’t have to figure out what it really is. But the world doesn’t revolve around one setting, and while some things are black or white, most are grey.

But gray has become a danger zone because contemporary culture rewards simplification. And it ruins us.

Our compulsion to condense life happens every day. Your work. do you love it If the answer is a resounding “YES”, congratulations, you belong to an elite group that nobody likes. If it says “yes, but I’m done” or “no, but I can’t go,” then it’s gray. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant or has no desire to solve your problems.

Major city transformation is another gray area, especially cities with rich histories and diverse architectural heritage. Some argue a revamp takes away from the charm and forces people out of their homes, while others believe they offer a more contemporary environment and better standard of living for locals.

To me the most offensive contraction is black and white, us against them, toss a coin and choose a side mentality over the West and China. Headlines aside, I’ve heard it from Twitter trolls and members of my own family. You’re homesick; leaving. The lockdown was painful; You must hate Shanghai. You enjoy life here; You are brainwashed. I was labeled a China hater and a moron the same day. You can’t be both, and the fact is I’m neither.

Changes to the travel policy this week have thrown us another curve ball. Shanghai and those planning to visit learned that anyone arriving in the city from another province within five days will be barred from some public places. Shane and I are on a business trip and neither of us is expected home before Christmas week. We had planned to meet again in Shanghai and have enough time to prepare and have fun over mulled wine. So what do we do? Quit the work we believe in or abandon some traditions of our culture’s holiest holiday?

We’ve all wrestled in gray places during the COVID years. Like you, I know people who have left China and are happily living elsewhere, and I know others who are heartbroken because they left. I know many more who are a cocktail of both. Pretending that something or someone can’t be multi-faceted is ridiculous and bloody dangerous. It’s not just situations that we crush; they are people. Just because an ankle-length Neanderthal can’t hold two thoughts at once doesn’t mean the rest of us will perish with them. That’s why gray is my favorite color. And that’s why I camp.

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am I glamping? I do not know. And frankly, I don’t care.

I pitched a tent in the gray area. Technically I didn’t open it – someone else did because I paid them to do it – but here’s my point. Glamping is a label used to describe outdoor excursions that don’t adhere to traditional “roughing” methods. The term polarizes and is seen as an insult by many, especially camping purists. The Oxford definition of glamping is “a form of camping that includes more luxurious accommodation and facilities than that of traditional camping”.

According to the dictionary, glamping is a type of camping. Not that helpful because there are different definitions everywhere. One reads, “The activity of spending a vacation in a camp, tent, or RV.” Here you only have to spend evenings at a campsite to camp. The tent can be as luxurious as you want, or no tent at all.

Back to the Oxford definition. If the keywords are “more luxurious than classic camping”, then glamping is in the eye of the beholder. Whatever is more luxurious than your benchmark is glamping. In other words, camping (or glamping) is grey.

Camping in the gray area: A case against the black and white mentality

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If you’re afraid of gray or not willing to go there, you’ll never really know.

Black and white mentality is necessary. Certain things — genocide, racism, rape — are wrong no matter how you cut them. But can we agree that most of life is grey? Gray is where we live, where we love and where we learn. If you’re afraid of gray or not willing to go there, you’ll never really know. You will never be confused or surprised, and you will never truly love anyone. ‘Cause how could you

I like gray and I like gray people a lot. Don’t confuse them with onlookers. Gray people are great thinkers, attentive listeners, and courageous leaders. The Grays among us are progressive; They move society forward because they don’t seek to be right or afraid of being wrong. They are also the best lovers. Gray commands. Gray is curious. Gray is sexy. Who wants to read, watch or re-enact 50 Shades of Monochrome?

I don’t just like gray; I strive for it. I want to live there, roll around and deal with the intricacies of life.

am I glamping? I do not know. And frankly, I don’t care. While the conformists argue about what constitutes camping, I deal with the gray. I’ll put up some fairy lights, start a fire and open a bottle. It’s nice out here. Gray is not boring, gloomy or sad. Gray is human. And if you’re human too, feel free to join me. I toast the marshmallows while I wait.

To follow her journey in more detail, visit Emma on Facebook (Emma Leaning) and Twitter (@LeaningEmma)

Anji County

Camping in the gray area: A case against the black and white mentality

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Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, is on many travellers’ wish lists. An obvious highlight, this pretty city offers scenic landscapes just an arm’s length from Shanghai. In search of the hills, many visit the bamboo groves and tea fields of Moganshan to stay at one of the stylish (and expensive) resorts. Northwest of Zhejiang is Anji, also known as “China’s Bamboo Village”. Famous for its scenes in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the county is also the source of the Huangpu River. Anji is a natural choice for basking in nature’s authentic luxury.

Arrival (from Shanghai)

Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station – Hangzhou East Railway Station – Anji Railway Station

About 2 hours

where i stayed

Camping in the gray area: A case against the black and white mentality

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51Camp Anji (Hanjiang Lonely Shadow Camp)

Chiwu Village, Xiaofeng Town, Anji County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province