The Difficulty of Blue

amywink February 9th, 2017


Image by Marc D. Wink

The creation of genius always seem like miracles, because they are, for the most part, created far out of the reach of observation.” ~~Homer, The Odyssey

But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome. . . .people believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity “daemons.” Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius. . . .
They believed that a genius was this, sort of magical divine entity, who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist’s studio, kind of like Dobby the house elf, and who would come out and sort of invisibly assist the artist with their work and would shape the outcome of that work.
~~Elizabeth Gilbert

The modern use of the word “genius” refers to someone with a remarkable brilliance in one aspect of their capacities. We think of Mozart or Einstein or Michelangelo. But the original notion of the word genius meant “attendant spirit.” This was not reserved only for the gifted. Rather, it was believed that everyone has an attendant spirit. Everyone has a genius. This is where the word “genie” comes from. So each of us has our own genie, our own soul to guide us, if we dare to look for it, to listen to it, to stay in relationship with it. ~~Mark Nepo

The Difficulty of Blue.

In the storming days of August after Stacey died, I felt the wake of her leaving in the pulse of my every day. The writing partner of my daily correspondence, we’d spent most of the last 20 years, thinking together in writing and the last 3, since her diagnosis with Stage IV Breast Cancer, thinking together through the hard and simple questions of our human lives, how to live well and daily, how to learn what was truth and where kindness carried us. Eventually, we came to know when she had to go and how I would go on without her, different but okay with her leaving. I had not seen her in a year but there wasn’t enough time to see her before she died, though I would have gone if I had thought she wanted that ending. I do not think she did and I stayed home, my soul lonely for my friend.

It was the wrong time for painting but the craving for creative change came on hard and strong. I had cleared and cleaned my mother’s room since her death in March but the space remained hers, yet vacant, liminal. Pushed forward, I began to renovate, to transform, the space I had into the space I needed. In her last months, Stacey had finished crocheting an afghan intended for my mother, who died before she could use it, in two shades of blue and cream my mother had chosen, so I took from her handwork my inspiration and focused on the difficulty of choosing blues.

Stacey and I loved decorating and had often conferred on the challenges blue presented. Which blue was the right blue for the bathroom? The study? Which blue of our mind’s eye could we match the color strips? Always it seemed, we both had to decide from at least 10 close choices, agonizing over slight differences that seemed to be huge. Was something too green? too purple? too grey? too blue? And even though we were usually able to choose the blue that worked, the agonizing choice of blues seemed so much more difficult that other colors we also loved. Greens, yellows, sometimes browns were a challenge but never like blues.

But I knew the difficulty of blue and still, blue was my choice. I wanted to keep the painted ceiling, pale blue with white sponged clouds, and the blue and white quilt for the bed, as well as the blue afghan made it clear: Blue. Find The Right Blue.

I found three: “Sky’s The Limit”; “Life at Sea” and “Blue Opal” came home to be checked in the light of the changing space. All were right enough. So I went back to get samples and paint large square patches on the walls. “Sky’s the Limit” and “Life at Sea” had staying power and I continued to wait, watching the changing light for a few days.

Then my poetic genius appeared to make the choice for me: “Life at Sea.”

“Life at Sea” because Stacey loved her last adventure, a Thanksgiving cruise to Hawaii, the previous year.

Because she loved Melville’s poetic prose and wrote to me about her new understanding of his descriptions.

Because she had delighted in the sea horses she found in Hawaii.

Because she watched the stars at sea and wrote to me about the vast open sea.

Because we both loved Louisa May Alcott’s “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Because my mother collected shells.

Because my mother loved the Texas coast.

Because through both of them, I had learned to sail my ship.

On the day of Stacey’s memorial service in Chicago, while it rained outside in Texas, I opened the can of paint, and weeping, transformed the difficulty of blue into a meditation of remembrance.

2 Responses to “The Difficulty of Blue”

  1. Nancy Johnsonon 09 Feb 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Amy, This is so beautiful. What a beautiful tribute, and what a profound expression of your love and your own grief process. Bravo.

  2. Marcy buffingtonon 10 Feb 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Beautiful .

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