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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Spilled Paint and the Best of Intentions

I love to paint. I'm terrible at it, but I love it nonetheless. I love the feel of the brush in my hand as the bristles push and pull the paint across the canvas pushing and pulling me into my internal self. I love how I can be trying to create something, but the mixture of colors goes in a different direction leaving me with an unexpected view of my own world. Blues and reds intermix to form various shades of purple that bring about laughter and calm at once. Red and yellow create the imaginative nature of orange to tickle the mind. Sometimes, the intermix of colors can leave me feeling uncomfortable. I might make the mistake of avoiding those colors when adding them to the canvas might be the thing that brings the painting to the next level.

What if we didn't have all those colors? Imagine a world only in terms of black and white. How boring would that be?

Years ago, I was out shopping with my son. We were leaving the store and passed by an employee smoking a cigarette. As we were walking away, my son rudely stated as loud as he could, "Don't people know cigarettes kill?"

I admonished him in the car. Not just for his rudeness, but for his judgmental attitude towards that stranger. "I'm glad you don't like cigarette smoke. I don't want you smoking cause you're right. It is bad for you. But you don't have the right to say something like that."

"Why not?"

"Cause it's judgmental."

"So? Am I wrong?"

"No, you are not wrong. But you need to take off the black robe anyway cause it's none of your business."

"Black robe?"

"Yes. It means you are being a judge over others you have no right to judge. You are seeing the world in black and white."

"What does that mean?"

"It means you are looking at one outward condition and deciding for yourself whether that is a good or bad person without knowing anything else about them. You're being judgmental. Take off the black robe, please."

It took a few years for him to get it.

Another person I know is having some personal issues lately. He seems to be at odds with a few of people in his life. He is feeling the sting of black and white judgment. However, he also seems to be seeing things in black and white in a different way.

Because of his disputes with others, he perceives them as judging him in all shades of black and charcoal while everything he intends is all in shades of white and pearl. He is incorrectly weighing his intentions versus what he believes are their perceptions. In other words, he is right, and everyone else is wrong. That's never true. Many of us are guilty of this type of thinking at one time in our lives or another.

The problem with the whole concept of black and white or shades of grey thinking is that the world isn't in shades of grey. The world is full of color. Bright colors and dull colors. Colors that match and colors that clash. Colors that create and blend and dazzle. Colors are intentions and perceptions and thoughts and feelings and personalities and mysteries spread out all over in a cacophony of sensations that often don't make sense. We use those colors to judge what another is thinking or feeling or intending based on a palette of greys.

As you read this, go deep into your mind's eye to the last intense discussion you had with someone that affected you. Look at your color palette. What colors were there? Did you have the cool blue tones of friendship or the harsh reds of anger? Was your intention a peaceful seafoam green or the power of amber orange? Was your heart filled with the love of fuchsia or the warmth of cinnamon? Did your brush have paint on it or was it bare?

Maybe you tried to see what was on your counterpart's palette. You couldn't. We are not able to see deep inside each other to what colors are on their palette. We can only see what they put on the canvas we are both painting with our interactions. We can only see our own perceptions, not their intentions. And vice versa. So choose your colors thoughtfully.

Did you mix your red with their blues and discover that together you had a periwinkle sky in your painted sunset? Or did you create the turmoil of an inferno in crimson and vermilion?

That's what we do when we interact with each other. We paint. Most of us aren't skilled at it. We try anyway. The world is nothing but black and white when we don't. However, don't throw out the black and white and greys. They have their place too.

I think the best paintings are those loaded with colors that look like spilled paint from all over the color spectrum. When we can share our canvases and see the other's vibrant perspective, then we know we were open and honest and accepting. What lovely canvases we can create when we get bold with our brushes.

What colors do you prefer on your palette?

Shoot me an email at

Thanks for reading!


Humor In Chaos


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