Choose Your Color

What is the color of your life? It is interesting that when asked this question most people choose some neutral or dark shade. Very few people actually choose a bright color. That’s because, on the whole, it is the negative things in life that quite often determine the color of our day. You can have a pretty good day going. Breakfast was good and you made it to work on time. In fact you had a few moments to spare when you parked your car. Traffic on the way was pretty typical; no accidents to tie things up. Sure, there were the usual slow-down’s. But, all-in-all, it wasn’t a bad commute. The morning’s tasks on your “to-do” list were pretty much accomplished in good order and, before you knew it, lunchtime had arrived even before you expected it. But then, right after lunch, there was that one bad thing that happened. Maybe it was a cranky phone call or a boss with a momentary attitude. That little minute-and-a-half event, less than .03% of your entire work day, may now have become the “color” of your day. What may have been a bright yellow day can easily become a deep blue one without so much as even a little effort on our part. It just happens––or does it?

I remember reading recently about a soldier who stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan. The soldier lost his left leg in the explosion. He spent months in a German hospital and then returned home to the United States. Over the course of the next few days he journeyed homeward via military aircraft to his small hometown in western Colorado. When he arrived at the airport he was greeted by his family and tears and smiles were exchanged. Finally several reporters from area newspapers converged on the reunion scene. One of them asked the young soldier how it felt to lose his leg. The soldier smiled and looked the reporter straight in the eye. “Mister, I didn’t lose a leg––I gave one!”

How we view life is a matter of what we want to see, not what we merely see. That young soldier chose a bright color because he knew that he would spend the rest of his life without his left leg. He would wake up every morning and know it. He would reach for it at night when it falsely told him that it was still there and find nothing instead. People might stare and his life was unalterably changed from this day forward. But he also knew that, if the color of that one event were bright not dark, he would be able to cope, even cope well with a smile. That was the goal he set for himself no doubt as he lay in that German hospital. It was probably on his mind throughout the long flight back to the United States. And in all likelihood, there would be times when he would need to remind himself that it was not a loss but a gift. Nonetheless, over the long haul, he knew that unless he chose to color his life brightly, the dark colors of defeat and pity would overwhelm him.

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