February 22, 1998

Color Bind

An unfamiliar twinge hit me. Maybe she had hit a bad note. Maybe it had nothing to do with me at all. No, the clear and sharp melody of her voice and her guitar had not faltered. The source of the twinge was in me and it was jealousy.

But I do not think that I was really at fault. I think that it was the rug. Yes, it must have been the rug. The rug made me do it.

The voice and guitar belonged to Dar Williams, a favorite singer songwriter of mine. She performed to a sold out, adoring audience at a church in Salem, Massachusetts. The church underwent major renovation a few years ago and it emerged glowing as a classic colonial structure. The interior was vintage New England with simple lines throughout. The walls were off-white and the trim of the quiet fluted columns and the balconies were a pale green.

During the renovation the color of the new carpet in the church became an issue. A red carpet had graced the church for as far back as anyone could remember, but the designer was recommending green. The church, a liberal democratic bunch, would put it to a vote. But who would vote. Members only? Let everyone vote! What about the children? Sure, let the kids vote too.

If you were one of the kids, would you vote for red or green? When did a child ever choose anything green? No, the kids all voted for red, but the parents had learned their decorating lessons and the green rug won a narrow victory.

It was good that green won, because it completed a beautiful design. But it was not good for me. It was the green that did me in. Green is the color of jealousy. I did not have to go to one of those Color Me Beautiful For Men courses to know that. It was like an aroma therapy result without the aroma. The color green wafted through the air and I was changed. I was instantly jealous.

Red would have been so much better for me. We all know that red stands for love. I could have embraced that emotion and joined in the love fest for Dar. Instead, I listened to her chat with the crowd about all the places she had been and the people she had met and I was jealous. After all, I have not been to as many places or met as many people. She has more than I do - more of life.

Oh, to have her life. Traveling all of the time. Going to work at eight thirty on a Saturday night with people you do not know. Singing the same songs night after night after night.

My twinge of jealousy did not last too long. I have more freedom than Dar, and I have chosen a different way of being in the world. Maybe the message is that I am yearning for more different kinds of experiences in my life, but not a different life. I have chosen the life I lead for a reason. It is mine.

As I processed this mini-crisis in my life I saw her purple dress. Purple is for passion and she wears it well. She sings of the love and pain of growing up, loving, separating and going on, with force and conviction. She is passionate about who she is and how she is in the world. A colorful lesson learned.

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