Monday, October 31, 2011

Black and White

When I was a very small child, my family had a big console TV--black and white, because I'm old. I had heard that there was such a thing as color TV, but I hadn't seen one.  The news of such a device, however, inspired me.  After that, I would watch  shows and 'see' them in color.  One time, I was watching a movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, in which a wimpy guy played by Don Knotts transformed into a fish.  My mom was watching with me and I said something about the color--how cool it would be if you could live under the water and see everything in that pretty blue-green hue.  She looked at me like I was nuts and said something about my 'imagination.'   I was quite offended, because to me, the color was what was 'real.'

Many years later, watching the movie What Dreams May Come, with Robin Williams, I was actually moved to tears by the incredible scenery that the main character created for his version of Heaven.  The colors and textures were astonishing as he recreated scenes from his wife's paintings for his 'reality.'  At the time, I shook off my mushy nature and joked about crying at such stupid things.  But now, I think those events may have been sort of like my cosmic training wheels.

You see, recently, fate has been pushing me to practice my art of innovative perception again.   I've realized that about 2/3 of all that ails we humans is a failure of imagination.   We focus most of our attention on the bad stuff--wars, scarcity, violence, division.   And when we do notice anything good, we mostly write it off as trivia, or sentimentalism, like I did when I cried at the beauty of the movie.   We've trained ourselves to experience life in black and white--a specter of the real world, but without vibrance, shadings, or nuance.  Only contrast. 

We need more color.  We need to see the blue of sky, the green of the trees, the amber brown of doggy eyes, even the red of the blood.  In black and white, it's too easy to miss the astonishing beauty in our world, and it's too convenient to overlook the incredible horror.   I read a line some time ago that says that you can't fix any problem at the same level of consciousness that created it.  Well, we need to shed our black and white blinders and see both the problems and the beauty in our world with new technicolor eyes.   Then we'll be able to envision something different, even if the rest of the world is still convinced that Mr. Limpet is grey. 

I'm going to be pushing to reach back and find the person I used to be who thought that the color was real, even when no one else could see it.   Join me.

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