In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t purchased a black rain coat for professional occasions.
For twenty years, my hiking slicker was bright, vivid, sunshine yellow. I recently got a new Patagonia coat in perfect periwinkle. Just looking at this perfect shade of violet-blue is enough to make me wish for a rainy spring day so I can slip into it and go for a walk, listening to the rain drops falling gently onto the hood.
The sensible part of me too frequently goes for the practical in my wardrobe—namely black this and black that—crazy socks being the exception. Once in a while I manage a detour to gray or brown. My heart, my artist’s heart, always wants clothing in every shade of purple, deep dark reds, brilliant flashes of fuchsia, bold glowing golds, and vibrant verdant greens. I want crazy patterns and will never stop loving paisley no matter if the world thinks it’s out of style or back in again.
I like the pretty of life and am drawn to the aesthetically pleasing—whether that’s standing in front of a great work of art at the Prado Museum in Madrid, marveling at the baroque details of European churches, or admiring the elaborate architecture of a random old building. Don’t you think we have an obligation to add the appealing to this world whenever we can? We should smile at others, laugh at simple jokes, and provide hugs when needed. We should, in essence, add our goodness to the universe whenever we can.
Adding color anywhere we can is an important part of that obligation, isn’t it?
Before I moved into Alex’s home, I asked this analytically-minded engineer, “Will you allow me to add color to your life both figuratively and literally?” Do you think he knew what impact that question and his agreement would have on him as his beige walls transformed to mustard, camp fire and ancho chili pepper throughout the living room and kitchen? The hall bathroom and downstairs powder room ecru was replaced with Tuscan orange, my office became a blue-green color that matches the sea of Goodwick, South Wales. Imagine my delight when he picked an unusual shade of green-yellow for his office, turning a neutral space into an inviting one.
Psychology Today talks about bright, but saturated, colors as relaxing us—these are the hues people are prone to like in our bedrooms. Warm colors, like red or that orange shade in our kitchen, make a space charming. Doesn’t everyone like being welcomed into the heart of a home? I like learning that green is tied to creative thinking—good choice for my office, eh? This is fun reading if you want to check the link.
Another way to reflect on the influence of color is via the words we use and the way we use them…
“Sing, sing out loud, sing out strong,” this song was a daily mantra for me a thousand years ago as a creative writing participant in the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts. (When I win the lottery, I will re-launch this invaluable program independent of the government so that it never dies again.) We non-musical attendees were taught to sing as loudly as those with stunning voices, and we did.
So it goes with adding pleasantries to the world. It’s not about being physically beautiful (eye of the beholder, after all), it is about acting and behaving beautifully. Be whole from the inside out, share the best of yourself with boisterous enthusiasm, give the finest part of yourself every day—especially with the various shades and tints we carry with us.
Isn’t unbridled joy an apt description of little kids? Before life blemishes children with societal attitudes and teaches them, “how to behave,” they are unique little bursts of sunshine. Yes, yes, I know they can also rain on us and turn into thunderstorms (where is that rain coat?), but who doesn’t when they’re hungry and can’t cook for themselves exactly what they want when they want it? Oh the preciousness of the hugs my nephew used to give as a toddler … he’d roll out of bed, plod down the wooden stairs, traipse barefoot across the fieldstone floor in the kitchen, wrap his little arms around you, and pat-pat-pat your back. It was the best morning greeting, as if to say, don’t be so serious, I’m here now, let’s smile and have fun—let’s color!
Kids dress in crazy clothing combinations and mix stripes with plaids and pink with green with yellow. They are unspoiled in their joy of sharing laughter and views of the universe with the somber adults in their life.
Don’t ruin today by cutting off the rude driver in traffic, maybe he’s having a bad trip you can make better. Broadly wave your purple-covered arm to invite him in front of you.
Don’t explode about your work stress. Be happy to have a job that adds what it adds to your life from the most basic of necessities to … being around people wearing every color and pattern imaginable.
Look in the mirror and smile once more as you notice what you adorned yourself with before you left home that morning. Be glad as you realize that you decided to wear the pink sweater with yellow trim, the Jerry Garcia tie with broad swirls, the multi-colored socks, or maybe red pants … and know that you are carrying a rainbow you can share with the world.