When we speak of something having ‘all the colors of the rainbow’ I am certain we don’t quite understand the enormity of such a thing. My sisters and I used to criticize badly designed or tasteless clothing, interiors and the like as being so artificial and clumsy because they were of a ‘color not found in nature’–but then, too, our thinking was far too constrained. For nature, that queen of design, has more colors than can be perceived, let alone understood, by mere human eyes and minds.
She’s a trickster and a lavishly opulent over-doer, is Nature. We are much too small to comprehend the fulness of her range and beauty. What seems like one rather simple thing at first often morphs, as we look and imagine further, into something far different and most likely far more subtle and complex.
I was reminded of this last night when I sat down with a new set of children’s marking pens–the cheap permeable-tip markers that last for about five drawings but cost a tenth of what the ‘professional’ pens do–and began to sketch something leafy. As soon as I began I knew that one kind of green would not make a leaf; no, I knew that all four kinds of green supplied by the manufacturer of this little bag-of-pens couldn’t begin to be sufficient to convey the character of the simplest, plainest sort of leaf-like thing, let alone give a hint of the way light might play across it in different climes, at different times of day. Or how much its appearance must be affected by my own vision, my mood, my expectations.
Our abilities to envision, physical and metaphorical both, are fluid but can never quite keep up with the mysteries around us. And that, my friends, is a fine excuse for forging ahead into the puzzling and problematic and pearlescent thing that is the future . . . .
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