How Black is Black?

(and does it matter?)

We will never see in our lifetimes a true black. I find this thought frightening as I relate it to my personality. And to my career. And to everything I want to do in life. I also find it exciting.

I only discovered this a couple of months ago. And it comes to me here and there. I’ve told a few people what I read online. But the important thing is it keeps coming back.

What we see as black is merely a dark grey. Even a really black box reflects some light. You can see your reflection in the “black” paintwork of a black car. The very idea of a reflection; that is of your beautiful outline; is that light is reflected.

So then the question is, what is blacker then “black”. Well. Scientists made a new material called Vantablack. And painted an BMW X6 with it! Batman style. The material is a series of honeycombs that absorb almost all light. Note the word almost.

So what’s blacker than Vantablack? A lot of things it turns out. But the number 1 contender for the blackest of “black” awards (I’m an English teacher at heart), is a black hole. Well yeh. I should have thought of that. A black hole absorbs nearly photons “light particles” – they can’t escape due to the immense gravity and the resultant “horizon field” – ooh fancy!

Only sorry to say. Stephen Hawking – my hero turned villain – comes out with the maths to explain that some photons could (in particle physics terms this means does!) escape. So even the damnation to eternity via Black Hole could mean a particle of the whole very damnation become the undamned.

There’s hope for the wicked!

But my mind is uneasy. Where is perfect black. What if perfect black doesn’t exist?

It turns out this unease is a great representation of what’s perhaps holding me back in my career. And many of you reading this. This desire for perfectionism. I want to see Black. But more importantly, I want to know that Black exists. This is what’s really bothering me:

Are my very actions subject to future revisions and forget?

Yes it turns out is the answer. Perfect doesn’t exist. Perfect only to a period of time. And the viewer. And their mood. And… well the caveats are endless. And that’s ok.

That’s ok to me (affirmation) because it doesn’t even have to be my best effort. Woo! Well life will be my best effort. But the individual components won’t. This blog post won’t. Turns out only 80% good of your best effort will be enough. More than enough – that last 20% is the most time-consuming period ever! I’m sure you know this!

Hitting Post!

Hitting Send!

How I revere the final execution. How I build it up in my imagination and wait decades to take the final step. And then I even check and revise constantly.

Save As


I’m sure you’ve done worse than the file name above! What’s your worst? Tell me.

Turns out you can (and in my case should!) be wary of trying to make black, blacker than black when it comes to your career. When it comes to your life! We all have a secret perfectionist monster inside of us and it needs to be tamed. Become aware of it. Ignore the desire. Don’t feed the monster! Don’t give it more spaghetti!

{Spaghetti} = brain energy.

80/20. Focus to achieve 80% of the outcome. 80% good of a job is good enough. Don’t focus on the final 20% (which from experience takes more energy than the first 80% of the project – ask any artist). “Black” will never be Black, so focus on achieving a fantastic shade of dark grey, then go do something else cool 😎

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