Kahlil Gibran said it best. “Let me, oh let me bathe my soul in colours! Let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow”. That guy sure had a way with words. A man not content to just sit and look at life, but rather wanting to greedily devour it until his very soul was full of the colours of life.
I loved this quote when I came across it this morning – it’s one I hadn’t heard before. And it got me wondering, what are the colours of life? How can I “bathe my soul” in them?
If you live in Queensland, the colour of your outer world at the moment is probably Maroon. Go Queensland! (Sorry, that just slipped out – but what a game it was!). Maroon is everywhere – on buses, on beanies on newborn babies, on shopfronts, faces, banners, wigs and jumpers. The colour embodies the spirit of the team and the pride of the state. It’s powerful.
Colours are evocative. They can capture and also create the spirit and mood of a place, a time, a feeling. We are surrounded by glorious colour – in nature, in our cities, in the clothes we choose to wear, in the objects we surround ourself with in our home – our outer world is a rainbow of colours.
But how can our inner world of the emotions and soul be bathed in colour? How can we ‘drink the rainbow’?
One of the greatest gifts and tools we have for this kind of work is imagination. Albert Einstein said
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Everybody can be an artist, drawing our own lives. Imagining the colour of our reactions and feelings can help us experience them more acutely. As we try to choose just the right colours to represent how we feel, we start to recognize the many nuances of our emotions. Today I decided I’m feeling “pink” – but is it a hot, bold, confident “look at me” pink, a soft, nurturing rose-pink, or perhaps a pale, washed-out and worn-out pink that’s just hanging in there?
Sometimes rainbows are clear ribbons of colour, but often the colours blend and merge. Some colours might stand out and others can’t be seen at all. So might our feelings consist of a whole range of colours all at the same time. Maybe, in a bad mood, I classify my mood as black. As I look closer, I notice tinges of envious green, a moody grey, and a frustrated and angry red all in the mix.
One way I love to recognize the rainbow of my emotions is to grab my watercolours, wet the paper, and just begin putting on whatever colours seem to ask to be put on the page. It might be just one or two colours, or begin that way and end up with the whole palette. Once it was nothing, so I packed up my paints and went for a walk instead. I try not to think too much as I do it – just let the colours speak. Often my subconscious choices will reveal nuances and emotions I wasn’t aware of.
Maybe you have other great ways to help you notice and pay attention to what’s going on in your life. What helps you look with the observant and perceptive eyes of an artist? What helps you see more clearly, feel more deeply, really be involved in your life? Perhaps it’s getting lost in a great novel, enjoying the smells, look and textures of your food, feeling the wind on your face, seeing your children or grandchildren and feeling your heart fit to burst with love. Perhaps it’s also allowing yourself to feel loss, disappointment, hurt, regret. Experiencing the whole rainbow.
Let’s not let our lives pass us by as we sit on the sidelines. Let’s find ways to devour it greedily – to swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.