I have 35 coloring books lined up on a shelf. I refer to them in polite company as memories. Sometimes I take them down and flip through them. I’d like to say I colored them in all by myself, but I didn’t. I helped color them in by the things I did, people I chose to be around, and who I let hold crayons.
Who holds your crayons? When I was little my grandmother, my babysitter, kept the crayons on a high shelf in the pantry. At the time, I hated that and resented having to ask for them when I wanted to use them. Looking back, the ones we love hold the crayons in more than one way. She helped color those early years in, and kept my crayons safe. She helped choose people I would be around, and therefore she also chose who held the crayons to color in my first five coloring books.
When you get a little older you want to start making everything your own. You use crayons to color outside the lines to test your limits. You use colors you’ve never used before, and they might become new favorites. You start seeing friends, and not just family all over your coloring book pages. It becomes even more beautiful when you flip back though them.
When you are a teenager pages might have equal dark and light on them. Splashes of color that are vibrant are right beside colors of memories of middle school and high school trauma. We take the good with the bad and hope that in the end our pages look prettier each day. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
As an adult we choose who holds our crayons. We shape our coloring books just as much as we shape our family’s and friend’s coloring books. Loved ones get married. Loved ones have babies. We color the most vibrant colors of all. Loved ones die. Loved ones get divorced. We color some of the darkest pages of all as adults.
What color of crayon are you holding over your family and friend’s coloring books? Are you a bearer of light? Are you shading in rich, bold colors? Are you warming the pages with your presence?
Some pages are meant to be dark. Some beautiful things come out of darkness. If someone scribbles all over your pages with ugly colors, the pages that follow can be some of the most beautiful. After a rainstorm can come a beautiful rainbow. You can’t choose the colors when you let people color in your coloring book. You just get to choose the crayon holder.