As little children we were often gifted by family and friends with coloring books.
These books had very distinct pictures of people and places and things. The guidelines, no doubt, helped us learn about the many aspects of life and told us what to expect from our surroundings.
We were instructed by most of our supervising adults to color carefully inside the lines …and we learned to do so. This served us well for a time…but life proved to be much bigger and bolder and more complex than that original coloring book.
Coloring inside the lines is a careful response to what we have learned to expect. Stimulus…and reponse. Coloring inside the lines is often our goal. So precise, so clear…so easy to understand.
And we often carry this preoccupation over into adulthood into the world of interpersonal communication…anticipating that the people in our lives will fulfill our expectations. When they do, we know exactly how to proceed…what “colors” to choose, what the “picture” should look like.
But… when the people and circumstances and events in our lives don’t look like the pictures in our coloring books (our images of them), we can’t use this childhood process.
Coloring inside the lines won’t work because the people, places and things won’t stay inside them.
And this is not a bad thing.
In fact, it’s a wondrous, challenging thing. Admittedly, sometimes it is very, very difficult…and sometimes very messy. We have to color outside the original lines. We have to see what boundaries will fit each picture (and try to honor and respect them) and we can’t determine that ahead of time. We have to watch where the borders are each moment for they are constantly moving. We have to see how the whole picture itself looks and how it meshes with ours.
To put this in human terms:
If we have a certain image of someone or something and then we see that based on what is happening, the image we have is not holding, it is very natural to be distressed. But the problem isn’t with the person or thing or circumstance; the problem is the fact that we are holding onto our old coloring book with a very structured mind picture we have created.
In doing this we are missing the opportunity to see what really exists in this LIVING work of art.
We are missing the opportunity to learn something new from each other.
We are missing the opportunity to be brave and adventurous...to engage in life and be fully present in that Moment.
If we only color inside the lines, we are missing out on one of the most profound and moving opportunities of life.
Let's redefine our creation to include the bold and bright colors that rush headlong into each other alongside the soft and gentle hues that open channels of converging energy with their loving interactions.
All are brilliant and beautiful. All tell the story of how we come together and, sometimes, stand apart.
Perhaps the ENGAGEMENT with this colorful, messy, ever moving picture is an ART unto itself.