Despite the wintry abundance of pale and gray skies in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we know that above

the clouds there’s an arcing expanse of sweet blue. We know this because we witness the phenomena of color and agree, collectively, to call the sky blue. We’re authoritatively told at an early age, that roses are most definitely red, violets are confidently blue (despite being called violets), and that’s that. Oranges apparently are so orange that they’re just called oranges, a feat of nomenclature that evades other qualities ascribed to our beloved juicy citrus. Maybe “Floridian Tangy Pulpy Fruit Water” doesn’t have the marketing pizzazz of “orange juice,” though personally I’ve never enjoyed a tall cool glass of purple (grape?)- maybe I’m missing out on something. Over millennia language evolved from grunts and hoots advising of danger/pleasure into complex flowing garlands of adjectives and verbs to describe perceptions of the worlds within and around us. From the winds we coerce to move through our voiceboxes, to the never-ending inkwells of human communication, we’ve given language a tremendous power in shaping the world around us. One of my favorite rapscallion philosophers, Alan Watts, once used words for color to expand on the idea that while making grand cultural agreements over the meaning of words, we don’t associate with them in the same exact way. Here’s the experiment: consider for a moment “green.” Using a color wheel, you can easily point to green. Yet upon asking what the very first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word green, a rainbow of various visual interpretations can be listed; ferns, limes, Kermit the Frog (whom apparently found the vertiginous lifestyle challenging), tennis balls, eco-friendliness, money, and the fuzz that disgraces leftovers in the fridge could be among the spectrum of variants. Now, kicking the mental experiment up a notch, consider the words “God” or “love” or some other suchlike abstract. Do you think of an old man in a cloud who hoards lightning bolts just waiting for someone to invoke a striking down on Earth? Do you think of the living organism which is the thin skin of our blue/green planet, circling the wilds of space? Do you think of an aspect of self that guides you from transition to transition, with grace and patience? We speak of these things, and yet each of us has a unique personal interpretation of these powerful, colorful words- and while we build society on the virtues of “freedom” and “fairness,” do we know what the heck we’re really talking about? Certainly, things would get complicated quickly if we each stuck to our own inner definitions of everything, blinding ourselves to the value in others’ personal experiences with the Grand Ideals or miniscule details. In order to function personally and socially, we give consent to a mass-definition, and go our merry way. But wouldn’t it be useful to occasionally question what we really mean when we say, “I love you,” or “God bless you,” or “isn’t the sky so intensely blue today?” With each word spoken, we have an opportunity to explore how our self helps create the world we live in, and the very beliefs we hold dear. Would your value of (and connection to) God be transformed by examining the immediate associations with what God means, really means, to you? William Blake went so far as to see “a world in a grain of sand, heaven in a wildflower” and his Infinity was pocket-sized. The reality of our personal experience of big and little things alike can be seen as more than putting language through a heavy yoga session of bending meanings into new- if awkward- shapes; it is an innate aspect of our curious consciousness. Believe it or not, we’re living the Via Creativa with every utterance, each paintbrush stroke, each synaptic spark. The wind does indeed have many colors, and while being green ain’t easy for Kermit, it sure beats the alternative of not existing- or creating- at all.

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