Like It or Not, Let the Colors Swirl

This is a weird time. It’s sad and scary. It’s colorful and creative. It’s overwhelming and enlightening and stimulating and freeing. And exhausting – mustn’t forget exhausting.

My daughter left for college last month. She is a couple thousand miles away, and let me tell you, it’s just weird. It’s a big deal, but not necessarily in the way I thought it was going to be.

I feel all this swirling emotion and can’t put my finger on any of it. I told my therapist: It’s like I’ve had this paint palette inside me. The colors have been separate for awhile. Pretty colors, but all in their separate spots. And now, I feel like all the colors are swirling around inside me, making a big cyclone of swirly colors, turning and whirling and blending together in a mad dance. They’re out of their separate little spaces and are mixing it up without me even doing anything. And they need to come out, but they haven’t come yet, so I constantly feel like I’m on the cusp of something – something colorful and wonderful, but also scary as shit.

My therapist – who is brilliant and insightful and who laughs at my jokes – pointed out that I don’t have to just wait for the colors to come out, that I can bring them out when I’m ready – I’m in charge of those colors, dammit, and I can pull them out whenever I want. “Maybe,” she said, “You can bring them out by (ahem) writing.” This was her not-so-subtle way of saying that, since I often talk about how I’m not writing as much as I want to (or at all), maybe now is a good time to start.

That led, somehow, to a conversation about being forgetful. I asked her at what age we begin losing our words, because I’m forgetting words all the time these days, and as a word person, it’s really fucking pissing me off. She suggested that at this time of life (51 years old last month), hormones play havoc with our brains, and forgetting words – in fact, forgetting a whole lot of stuff – is just part of the deal. Then she pointed out how – surprise! – writing is a good antidote to forgetting words, that it might keep my mind sharp. (It’s not working so far: in the first draft, I wrote “anecdote” instead of “antidote” in the previous sentence.)

I also had this dream where I was directing a bunch of people in a really cool dance, and I was showing them all the nifty things I was making up to make the dance exciting and fun. I was the director, I was inspired, and it was a great dance. (It involved standing on our heads on folding chairs and waving our legs around – look, don’t question the creative process.)

All signs seem to be telling me to just sit down and be creative, for God’s sake. Just get it out. Maybe it will be beautiful!

So, here I am, 11:15 pm, sitting in bed trying to fight my fear. What fear? I’m afraid that these big, bold, swirling colors inside, that those wonderful dance moves I dreamed about, are not good enough. Or, if they are good enough, that there’s no way I’ll be able to do them justice. My brain is shouting, “I can’t!” even as the colors inside are shouting, “You can!”

One of my best friends is an amazing artist, and I was asking her today about her art, and she told me that she was painting a hand, and that the hand was so tiny that it was giving her a hard time, so she went out and bought a tiny brush, and now she thinks the hand will be better. And I thought, I need a tiny brush! The obvious problem here, of course, is that a tiny brush won’t help me, unless perhaps I used it to jab in my ear and brush away the cobwebs. (That would be very excellent and I would totally do it if it would work.)

See, she has a tool she can purchase to help her improve. I don’t know if it helped or not, but even the, the – shit! What’s the fucking word? – ah, yes, the appearance of a helpful tool might, in fact, help.

But what do writers have? Well, always, there are books. Or maybe I could change the font size or color or style… Except I can’t because I don’t know how to do it on WordPress. So here’s a pretty picture instead:

I guess the creativity has to come from within no matter the outward trappings. Pulling it out can be hard, whether you’re an artist or writer or dancer or sword swallower (actually, if you’re a sword swallower, pulling it out is probably the easy part; putting it in is the part that would really suck).

Difficult or not, I’m hoping that what’s in there – right now, at this crazy and confusing time of life – might just be beautiful. So I’m starting to bring it to the page, and hopefully will keep doing so, because I’m curious to see what I find. I hope it’s beautiful. Or at least interesting. I hope you like it. I wish I didn’t care so much about that last part, but I do. But mostly, I hope I like it. (No, I was right the first time, mostly I hope you like it.)


If you’ve already sent a kid off to college, and if you experienced similar feelings of wow-what’s-happening-and-is-it-good-or-bad?, let me know. I feel so – big! And also little. And free, and also constrained. Excited, and also scared. And all other possible contradictions. I don’t know if I’ll figure anything out, or if there’s anything to figure out at all, and anyway, I’m going to bed. Stay tuned. I’m going to try to do this more often.

G’night, my friends. Hope you have a great weekend. And, as always, have fun.

2 thoughts on “Like It or Not, Let the Colors Swirl

  1. Deanna

    Sending kids far away to school feels new, exciting, scary and makes me feel old. It is exactly like a kaleidoscope. Really hard to use words but I get the colors. Nice! ~deanna



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