Friday, September 18, 2009

The World Through My Eyes

The colors of the rainbow as viewed by a perso...

I thought she was crazy when my mother said, "Oh, isn't the grass a pretty green today." It was red to me and a very nice one; I rather liked it. That was my first inkling, at about six years old, that the world through my eyes was different. The second came in elementary school when I discovered there were a lot of crayons in my box of 64 that were basically the same color. Despite their labels, emerald green and autumn brown were virtually identical and purple was just a cheery navy blue.

As long as I wore jeans and whatever was in my closet, I was fine. But once I began to take an interest in clothes as a teenager, that's when I got into trouble. When I suggested a particular shirt with a pair of pants, salespersons politely pointed out how the same style in a different color would be a better match. Or my mother would say, "That's a lovely pattern, but are you sure you want a green tie?" Well, of course not, but it looked red -- why else would I choose it?

Eventually, I learned how to adapt and ask whether colors clashed. I even turned it into an opportunity to flirt by asking attractive young ladies what they thought of a particular combination. Women love being asked their opinion about clothes, I found out, so why not use it to my best advantage? It was another matter when they smiled solicitously and said, "Are you color blind? My brother has that problem, too." Oh, thanks, that's just what I wanted, to be like your brother.

What makes all of this even more difficult to describe is the fact that, when I explain my experience to the non-color-blind, they have no frame of reference for understanding it. To them, grass has always been green and they can't imagine it being the color of bricks or fire engines. And it's not that red, it's more like rust, or a bright russet. Trees are the same way, except for the tips of the ones in the hayfield out my window that are gold in the morning sun. I know, they aren't gold, they're green -- but they aren't, they're gold. And that's how it goes.

It's not that the world is somehow lacking in color because there's plenty of variety. It's just that, unless you're colorblind, it's not the same one that nearly everyone else sees. In a sense, you can feel rather lonely, as though you're inhabiting a world of one. But you also realize how unique we are, how each one of us "sees" in ways that are all their own. That changes everything and suddenly, you're not alone anymore. All it takes is a little perspective.

(Psst. I know the grass really is green -- whatever that means.)


(The colors of the rainbow to someone with deuteranopic red-green colorblindness, public domain image via Wikipedia)




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