Over the past few months the color blue has taken hold of my life. I hadn’t given it much thought before. A lot of people like it and I’m sure it’s just for the aesthetic pleasure it gives them. For me it has become symbolic of something deep within me. Every so often you get asked questions like “if you were a color what would you be?” My response before my last undergraduate semester would have been purple and green (specifically plum and sage). Purple denotes a sense of power, ambition, passion, and knowledge. You see it in paintings of royalty frequently. Green reminds me of life and rebirth, symbolic of how I am constantly growing and developing as a person. I could really go into some color psychology here, but I’ll leave that up to you if you’re so inclined to know.
But now there’s blue. In some ways I feel as though this color haunts me with how often it creeps into my life. And this all started with “The Blue of Distance” by Rebecca Solnit. Seriously, it’s a good read and I will continue recommending you read it until you oblige me. It was a required text for one of my courses and I absolutely fell in love. You should also be prepared for me to reference this a lot in coming posts as no one will want to read the novel this post would become if I wrote down every instance of Blue in my life. So for now, I focus on my journey to California and my subsequent thoughts.
I was invited by my best friend to accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball this past November in Palm Springs. This caused a lot of mixed emotions as I had never flown on a plane by myself, am terrified of flying, was still dealing with a large amount of emotional pain from the passing of my youngest brother, and would have to take time off of work and school. But the promise of seeing him and being in beautiful weather was enough to make me leave the Midwest. While in the air I see the mountains for the first time. Sure I’ve seen them up close and have traveled through them in my younger years, but it’s nowhere near the same. I was in so much awe that for the first time all day I had forgotten about my insistent anxiety, forgotten that I was traveling alone, and burst out an excited “ARE YOU SEEING THIS?!” to the man seated next to me, who eerily looked as though he could be my father’s brother. (Sidenote: I took a picture of him while he wasn’t looking to prove to myself later on that he still looked like my father and that it wasn’t my emotions distorting my perception). It turns out he had never seen the mountains before either and so we were both peering out the window with childlike fascination. I was overwhelmed by it and the fact that I was experiencing this raw moment with a stranger. And then I saw it. The blue of distance.
Solnit talks about blue as “…the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance.” The mountains carried on for miles past what I could see. They turned into a hazy blue, but I knew they were there.
I think a lot about the fact that I was so overcome with emotion over the expanse of the mountains and how I couldn’t see past the blue. I think about how this carries into my life. I can only see so far ahead and at some point the future becomes uncertain. However, I know it’s there and that it’s only a matter of time before the path starts to become clearer, but there’s always something farther down that’s shrouded and indiscernible. This is the blue of distance. My incessant search for knowledge and understanding are a huge factor in what motivates me and the blue of distance is the goal.
I look at those I keep in good company in a similar fashion. I’ve always had the strong desire to pick apart people’s brains and figure out how they work and why they function and think they way they do. This is an impossible endeavor. My mother would tell you that I’ve been watching and analyzing everyone around me since infancy and I’m inclined to believe it’s true. A lifetime of studying and analyzing has given me the upper hand with people in a lot of ways, but it’s still not enough. I can only learn so much from observing and I can listen to someone talk for hours and still gain little more knowledge because people exaggerate, leave out details, or straight up lie about their thoughts and experiences. I am constantly looking at those around me and wondering what is going on inside their heads and how I can invent a device that allows me to read their thoughts and view their memories like a film. Are they being sincere? Are they hiding something? Are they lying? Why? Why? Why? Blue. You are all, in some fashion, the epitome of this distance. I am this distance to you and to myself. It is the depths of the mountains, the sea, the sky, of you and of me. Blue.
I don’t think this connection is a common thought amongst the majority of people, at least my peers, but I think it’s interesting to know that we are connected to nature in such a beautiful way. I am as profound and hidden as the the depths of the sea. You are so vast that, like the mountains, others can only imagine what lies beyond the haze. Everything is touched by the blue of distance and the only way to gain clarity is to progress.