My entire life I have loved colors. When picking markers for school, or adulthood, give me the classic or bold sets. No pastels, no muted tones. I want emerald, azure, raspberry. Give me the vivacious reds, purples, yellows. I want strong statement colors.
I never liked the brown, tan, peach or gray. Neutrals often felt quiet and flat. There was never excitement to use those colors.
I am a person who wants to live fully alive, buzzing with opportunities, conversations, and adventures. Let me gaze upon the vivid colors of fall or the brilliance of a sunset.
I want stirring moments and the moments I remember most have the color scheme that 10-year-old me chose in my markers.
Last February, however, I found myself in a shocking space. The week of Valentine’s I sat with a dear friend, her in a hospital bed, I in a chair, just days before her bone marrow transplant. We joked, cried, and talked about our heart spaces. It was almost poetic I confided to the loss of my colors while sitting in her hospital room. I was in full, gray-scale burn out. She could see it even more that I.
This truth made the following month’s pandemonium of shelter at home, remote-learning, and shut-down even more difficult.
For the first two weeks it seemed gray-scale was in danger of a complete blackout.
As the dreary days continued rolling, they contained a pleasant walk with the family or the goodness of a home cooked meal mixed in. In the forced slow came hues of garden planting and garage cleaning.
In no way were these moments back to the vibrant reds and sparkling blues that had been on my life’s palette before. And yet, as I looked around, I saw the loveliness in the tan, almond, burnt sienna, coffee, and mahogany. Shades of brown memories were being made. There was wonder in the slow and the nuanced.
This year, I have been living among copper, goldenrod, auburn, sand, and cocoa brown. It is a slower, newer version of fully alive. And while I miss my emerald and tangerine moments, I am learning to not just accept, but cherish the brown spaces in my life.
There is a need for the neutrals, the moments of quiet and flat. We don’t need to live in the browns permanently. It doesn’t have to color our entire life, but I hope all of us incorporate the color into our canvases. There is something unexpected in the brown moments.