Thursday, August 6, 2009

Color Me

This past week, Big Dave and I did what countless parents all over the country prepared to do...we moved a child from our home to college. The ritual was painful and has already been discussed I will spare further elaboration. But as I've heard what is on the hearts of my friends I've realized that life certainly would be easier if we could nail down the emotions we are feeling as simply as Crayola has been able to do so with color.

Those yellow and green boxes are the staple of many an elementary classroom...which I suppose is appropriate to discuss now as so many are headed back to school. The crayons come in different sized packages containing 8, 16, 24, 48 or 64 crayons...although there are probably other sizes by now. Obviously, the color offerings become increasingly more complex as the number of crayons in the box grows. Where you have black, brown, green, blue, red, yellow, orange and violet in the box of 8, you might have something exotic like magenta (one of my earliest favorites) in one of the larger boxes.

For many of us, the box of eight crayons provides us enough expression to display the colors of our emotions adequately. We use blue for sadness, black for depression, red for anger, green for envy, yellow for those times we are fearful and orange for those sunny times when all is right with the world. Simple enough, don't you think?

And then there was this week...

The carnation pink that shows my joy that my little Phi Mu is moving back for her sophomore year. Gray to signify the storm clouds in my mind as I watched her fret over the insignificant. Brick red for the color of the house they occupy and the way I felt inside from being hot all day. Not to mention apricot..the color of the walls that the mother of one of the roommates was painting because it matched her comforter better. The color mirrored the smell of the fruit on the counter, and the sunny personality of the room's occupant.

As we release our children from our nests to the big world, we tend to describe our emotions on a very basic level instead of being able to fully express any more than a descriptor. We think of ourselves as blue because they are leaving us again after a summer of togetherness. But the truth is, the depth of how we feel is unique to us. We may be light blue...or a little sad...or dark blue...bordering on depression. We may also be blue-green...a little sad and also envious that they have it all in front of them to enjoy...and we don' the same time. Or perhaps we feel electric blue. We are sad they are not with us every day...but are also excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for us now that they are not requiring our constant attention.

Wouldn't it be great to just be able to describe our emotions in color? To say, I'm feeling golden today...and have it be that pretty gold color in the Crayola 64 box (the one with the sharpener!). Doesn't it make sense to be able to express that the envy is that odd "spring green" color which is new and fleeting and not "forest green" - more deep and dark? And wouldn't it be easier to know how to deal with people when we could more fully understand the depth of their sorrow, the scope of their joy, or the level of fear that we were dealing with before we open up our basic Crayola 8 and try to relate?

But the depth of the hue is not the only factor to consider. Most of us are more comfortable with one size over the others...some people like life simple and basic (Crayola 8)...and others of us prefer it complex and varied (Crayola 64). Some can use broken pieces without regard to peeled off labels and dull edges. Others simply refuse to enjoy what is no longer pristine - even if it continues to remain useful. Some of us keep our crayons in the box, and others just leave them scattered...or heaven the car on a hot day where they can...during a trip to Wal-Mart...become totally unrecognizable.

Just so you know, I find that I function better when I have fewer perhaps the Crayola 24...but I love to see those who can fully utilize a bigger box. Their lives are colorful and decorated and exciting. But I equally appreciate those who have mastered the art of simplicity by taking the Crayola 8 of their lives...and making a masterpiece.

As I look at my life with all of its varied colors...I sometimes marvel at the colors in the pictures I see in my memories. The vibrant hues and the dull soft colors coexist in those pictures...much like the various colors coexist in the box. Each color is unique...just like each of our its unique. However, all in all...I suppose that you should color me blessed. I wonder what color that is? I'm guessing some lovely shade of pink...Later!

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