(Inspired by The Grateful Flow from The Tools by Barry Michels & Phil Stutz)
Imagine if every morning when you woke up, you had a slightly diminished ability to see color. Reds were just a little closer to maroon, oranges just a little more brown, greens just a little more gray than they were the day before. Eventually, you might wake up and wonder if there ever was such a thing as color. Maybe you’d have a vague memory of a time in your life when colors were vibrant. You might even be reminded by our language that colors were often named by that which they colored. Violet. Goldenrod. The Emerald Isle. Just names after a while.
Imagine a world in which everyone was born with this condition. On each person’s first birthday, color is brilliant and strong, and pure, and distinct, but as each day wears on, the perception of color gradually fades. Some folks might be lucky enough to have a stronger ability to retain their color perception. Arguments might arise between those who can see color and those who can’t. After a while, whole factions would arise between those that experience color and those who do not. Science might even pitch in by providing conclusive proof of colors through cameras and instruments that measure the variances between light frequencies. But politics and religion would trump these arguments. For those who have no color perception, being deprived of the sublime experience of personally seeing color would seem like a bitter curse, and the suggestion that they were chromatic illiterates living in a world full of brilliant color would seem like a cruel joke.
Until one day, someone discovers that by merely taking a few moments each day to stare at a brilliantly colored object, and strain a bit, trying to remember… “Yellow… this golden hay is yellow. Turquoise… this pendant from my grandmother was green and blue… making turquoise. This robin’s egg on the ground. It’s robin’s egg blue. This christmas wreath, a piney green, with a red velvet ribbon”. After just a few moments of concentrated focus, the mind would make the connection to the childhood memories of color and POP, the colors would rush back in all at once, and just a vibrant as day one.
And the next morning, the fade would begin anew. And if ignored, would eventually return to shades of gray.
As a result of this discovery, new factions would arise. The gray-sighted would continue to argue there is something unnatural and essentially unrealistic about having to work and train their hue perception. What could possibly be nature’s purpose for evolving such a disability? They suspect the “hue-trainers” of being politically motivated, of wanting to lord it over the gray-sighted and make the world follow in their disciplines. Who are they to say their colored experience is more valid than the gray experience? They really ought to be knocked down a peg, in fact.
Some among the gray-sighted ranks readily admit they’d seen color, many times, in fact, but finally decided they prefer gray. It’s simpler, it’s certainly easier than working out ones eyeballs every morning. It’s only natural and fitting that as we mature and grow wiser, more sober, more realistic, and more pragmatic, that we should necessarily see things in a way that is better suited to our age and our station in life. Younger gray-seers revel in their edginess, appearing to be wise beyond their years.
The color-sighted insist that chromability is universal and available to anyone who is willing to run the experiment. An experience very much worth the effort, not only because it enables a person to see something beautiful and positive and pleasant, but it enables them to see more of what truly IS.
And in the event that nature herself might one day abandon these color-seers, no longer producing the glorious spectacle of color she once did, the color sighted would write books filled with color specimens of every possible shade and name. So that any time they wish to strengthen their color-sight, they might turn a few pages, stare at attention, and ask their mind, “remember”, and their eyes, “see”.