The Emotional Palette Revisited

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have come to think of feelings as different paint colors on a palette. The painting we are working on is our emotional interaction with the world around us. We all start out with a  blank canvas and few primary colors, and we get more as we go. Our parents, our peers, and all of our experiences have the potential to affect the hue or shading of our emotional palette.

We all end up with a certain amount of black from the hardness of life. I think for me dealing with depression was like adding black to the palette. Once black is introduced, if you aren’t very intentional all the colors are in danger of turning into a murky disgusting mess.

Remember when you were a child; wasn’t it frustrating when someone else colored on your picture? I think that a hard thing about the idea of painting with emotion is that our feelings are affected by so many things beyond our control.

I start ‘painting’ myself a good morning. The yogurt I made turned out really well and tastes delicious with blueberries and granola for breakfast. Mmmm….add some purple.

It’s sunny outside! Actually sunny! Add some brilliant orange in a few places.

A thoughtless driver nearly crashes into my car and speeds off without a second (or even first) look. Tiny grey-brown spatters. Not enough to ruin the picture or anything, but it does change the mood slightly in a small area.

Go to a playgroup. Watch other parents and enjoy talking about a variety of subjects ranging from everything from Food, Inc. to Magic Cards, and from potty training to our various religious upbringings. Many different colors represented here, and I add a bit from each of them to my day. I like how that mom redirected her son…that particular hue of green matches really well with this part of my painting!

I get stressed out when another parent at Whole Foods doesn’t redirect her kids at all and fails to even notice her son pulled a chair out from under E. and is now laughing about it while she sits bewildered on the floor. Then after several more incidents and side conversations wherein I try to encourage her quietly I say out loud, “Tell him no! What he’s doing is not okay.” The other mom finally hears from across the room behind a plant, gets mad and says “I’m SORRY!” in a way that really means…well…not an apology, I feel certain as I meet her angry stare. There will be no productive conversation there, so I move on. A muddy black splotch–all over the corner where the sunshine was. Shoot. What now? That’s not how I wanted that to look…

I really don’t want to paint such a dark picture right there. So I need some white to balance out and take away some of the murkiness. Or maybe I just need to cover it with white and start again in that spot. Where do I get white? People find it in many unlikely places. A smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend, a flower. I think God puts it many-wheres in the world for the finding, as He is the source of white and understands much more than we do how and when we will need it. And if we ask, we may even find some help for how to incorporate it into our own work to make it more beautiful.

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