Woke up this morning with the line from a song resonating through my head: “And then there’s colors.”

It took some doing, but I finally learned what that line meant, after a lifetime of not realizing that I was seeing things in black and white, and just why I had grown up with – and gone on to perfect – that tendency.

Black and white is certainly easier. Faster. A quick glimpse tells me everything I need to know, about a person, a place, a perception. A judgment is made, yes, no, and life goes on.

Seeing in colors has greatly complicated the world in general. I can’t say, “This is good and that is bad” anymore. It’s not that simple. Yes, in this case, but no, not in that one.

Do I think this, that, or the other? Yes, sometimes. But no, not always. It makes perfect sense here, and I’ll go with that. But here, it blocks part of the truth, part of the whole picture – and if I want to see that, if I want to open myself up to the whole of life, good and bad, then I have to widen my angle to take in a broader view.

But you know what I learned, once I took off my black-and-white filtering blinders? I learned that gray isn’t the only many-hued shade. I learned that there aren’t just seven colors in a rainbow. I learned that there are uncountable shades of magenta, shading from fire to rose to plum. That there are greens that can eat me alive, and other greens I’d die for. That even sounds can carry colors, when we’ll let ourselves see them, feel them that deeply.

Yes, black and white keeps things simple. And sometimes we need that. When your life depends on a instant response, it’s essential. And even here: We have two hands in order to carry and balance both ways. Each in its own place. It’s not always a question of life and death, win or lose.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing, learning the art of a master. Knowing when to apply which. With which brush stroke. With what pressure. With how much precision, how bold or gentle a touch. And realizing that no matter what we choose, the end result will be our own personal masterpiece, with its beautiful bright portions, its moments of darkness, perhaps hidden, perhaps starkly outright. The soft flows, the striking slashes – all ours – in all their glory.

It’s true: There are colors. And I, for one, am grateful for an ever-expanding palette, and eyes-open to its beauty.

Irises - color

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