Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The violet nature of life and death

The view from my bedroom window is like a perfectly framed abstract painting that's always changing. All year, I watch the capricious scene from my pillow: green leaves against steely bark against cobalt sky; red leaves against black bark against tangerine sky; no leaves against snowy bark against grey sky.

The leaves are yellow now, nearly white. Lately I’ve found myself wondering: why are those yellow leaves so gorgeous against the bark and the sky today? And one day it hit me: because at this time of year, the backdrop of everything is violet.

I’ve taken some painting classes. I’m a lover of art. I know a little about colour theory. Yellow and violet are complementary, sitting on opposite sides of the colour wheel. That means they set each other off, and their union is interesting to the eye.

I’ve been thinking a lot about violet lately.

Colours are wavelengths of light. Colours are mixes of other, more elementary things. Light is a wave and a particle. Colours are like music made of particles either hitting the same note or harmonizing.

Around here, painters can’t wait to paint autumn in orange-yellow-red. But if they stuck around after the light show is over, they’d see: the real colour of autumn is violet in all its infinite shades.

After four years of daily bush walks, I believe the world is always trying to send us little messages. But you have to be very quiet and keep a look out. I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen in love with the stories left by wild, finite natural events: leaves layered like stained glass after a big storm, moss and mud and sticks on the wet forest bottom, massive slabs of granite dragged along in the slow moraine of glaciers. Every day I walk, every day I look up from my pillow, every day it’s all completely new.

And yet I feel like there’s so much I’m missing. Like how I missed violet for so long. The yellow leaves are a message the world wants someone to see: life and death have colours of their own, and colours have cycles, and everything’s in a cycle, and it’s all perfectly…perfect. Now I see the violet everywhere. This is its season, when the parts sacrifice themselves so that the whole can live on.

When leaves die, they explode into colour then fade to violet, and—eventually—to brown, which is simply the melding of complementary colours.

When we die, our bodies turn violet. Not grey, like they show in the movies. Or at least I can’t see how that could be: we have no black or white in us, but we’re full of blue and red. When I think about that, and I think about how everything in the forest does it too, I find it very comforting. And a part of me that understands that I really understand almost nothing beyond the tip of my nose wonders: What about that other part of us, the part they say lives on beyond our bodies? Is it real? If so, I think it must be violet. And when we die it has nowhere to go but up the spectrum, to ultraviolet. And that's a very cool thought.


Blogger jackp said...

i have seen the light...and i have seen the light..

7:40 PM  

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