Travel

The world in color

In a class I taught last spring, we talked about how the world gains a layered complexity once you leave the space that you know and enter one that you don’t.

“The world isn’t black and white, it’s gray,” I commented to my students. However, I woke up the next morning realizing I was wrong.  While I still maintain that the world is not black and white, it isn’t anywhere close to gray, either – the world exists in vivid color.  Limiting it to just two hues removes a depth of complexity that takes away beauty from our lives.

One of my coping mechanisms for surviving my husband’s PhD program was to develop an array of personal hobbies.  To my great delight, one of the hobbies I developed was photography and photo editing.  When editing photos from our most recent trip to Sri Lanka, I found myself jacking up the intensity and contrast on the photos of Colombo, the capital city.  They weren’t exactly realistic looking, but the intensity and depth of colors felt more accurate to me.  “This is how I see Colombo,” I mused, “teeming with color, full of life.”

In the scheme of things, isn’t that how the whole world spins? There are no moments in black and white.

And yet, some still mute these moments.  We bow to a ‘culture of politeness’, smear it with smiles, and muffle the quiet desperation in our hearts.  Loudly, we proclaim the white of truth, the black of sin and move triumphantly on. Yet when do we pause to speak of the staining red of unchosen sacrifice, the haunting browns of crippling addiction, the bruising purple of unhealed wounds?  When do we stop to breathe deep and notice the infusing green of hard-chosen growth, the eye-opening yellow of soaking in the sun, the intense orange of walking with a well-lived passion?

Black and white is easier, of course.  But it misses so much.  When we live out our days in full color, we acknowledge the real of all the stories and speak them.

I suppose this is one of the reasons I started writing – to find the real, the color of the stories of my life.  Far too often, I find myself tempted toward muting them to keep everyone – including myself – calm. Yet as I read, I began to find people who told their stories in color.  It made me yearn to tell mine the same way.

Having just moved across the country, so many colors are swirling in my life.

There is the resounding peace of blue skies and the soaring gold of bright days ahead.

There’s the persistent green of hope, growth, and new life.

Then there’s the bold, unrestrained blast of the crayon box that the diversity of this unique place brings.  As a multiracial family, it feels like we’re fish returned to the coral reef from a goldfish pond.

And then there’s the gray – the uncertainty of newness, the lack of clarity about tomorrow, the endless maze of freeways, the crashing wave of first days, the sea of new faces.  I’m reminded that the strength of the gray gives depth and vividness to the other hues.

What colors do you see in your current days?  How has moving shaped and changed these colors?

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