Mother Nature turned the outdoors white as I slept last night, blanketing the landscape in four inches of new snow. In one fell swoop, she hides the other colors’ attempts to announce themselves: the showy green and yellow of Spring daffodil, the blushing scarlet of quince blossom and the hopeful blue-violet of periwinkle. Not being a winter sports enthusiast… and rather uninsulated by body type… my first response to this whiteness is “Oh, no!”
As I grow older, I am getting better at watching my thoughts… and I realize that this response is uncomfortably similar to my response to the proverbial white paper or white canvas (a well-documented phenomenon among artists and writers alike). My own fear of the white page feels like a fear of nothingness, of a void… as if I will never make another good painting again. But if scientists and color theorists are correct, white is not ‘nothing’ at all, but the presence of ‘everything.’ Light shining through the clear, color-less prisms of crystal pendant in my studio window reminds me of this. On every sunny day, rainbows bounce off the wall in a splendid, soul-satisfying array of colors.
The story of Noah’s Ark illustrates this potential beautifully: from nothing (the result of rain and flood) can come everything (renewed life). When the rains have stopped and floods receded, the Creator sets a beautiful rainbow in the sky as a promise that this emptiness will never happen again.
Perhaps this promise is inherent in a prism, inherent in the color white? All of the colors are there, all of the colors are waiting for expression. Every possibility for creativity is dormant in white, whether white snow or white paper… it’s not a void at all. The fear is really more a fear of ‘over-choice,’ a fear of making the wrong choice, as if one could be wrong and another right. I suspect that this fear is a fear belonging to the ‘Little Me,’ to use an Eckhart Tolle expression… and will fade away as I become more comfortable with simply being the willing channel for whatever creativity wants to be born next.
The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) put this idea quite nicely: “A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the Absolute can manifest.”
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