A.M. Wilhelm | Shades of Brown
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Shades of Brown

This blog was supposed to be about writing, or reading, or editing, or something that could be crammed into one of those categories (even if I have to suck in my breath, and rip my skin on the zipper as I’m stuffing it in). Oh, hold on, I’m thinking about squeezing into my tight Guess jeans back in the 80s. You know, the ones with the little zippers on the ankles? But, I digress . . .yeah, digress, DIGRESS! Screw it. I’m in the mood to digress. Come along if you’d like, though I’m honestly not sure where we’ll end up. I’m going to let my words skip around like a bug on a pond. Skitter. Sink. Get stuck in the mud. Get eaten by a frog. But I’m not going to try to control them. Could be a perilous proposition or it could lead to virgin territory. It’s your risk to take.


Originally, I thought I might muck around in this morning’s thoughts on the color brown but words are yanking me around right now and I can’t get them to settle into a nice, easy, comprehensible rhythm. It seems it’s always one way or the other. I’m in charge of them or they’re in charge of me. Neither is satisfying. I feel either stifled or out of control. Hmm, those are interesting thoughts, would make a lot of sense if I were a pastor’s daughter. I’m not. Or, if I went to a strict Catholic school. I didn’t.


Like I said, I intended to talk about brown–about all the many shades of brown. But you see what happened instead (if you’re still reading) and now I’m beginning to comprehend why the stream of consciousness technique is sort of just a stream of unconscious crap producing neurons that guide my fingers to type. Should I find my reins and strap them onto this slithering liquid runaway mess? Do you really want to hear about brown? Brown crap? Sorry. Yes, pun IS intended.


Hmmm, I think I’m ready to start where I should’ve begun. Goodbye to my destination-less pond-hopping thoughts. I hope you drown! That was a forceful comment (for me). Am I in a negative mood? I didn’t think so but my fingers are telling me otherwise as they find keys that convey less-than-cheery sentiments. Who wants to read this besides me? If I was famous, then, then it might be interesting. Someone might want to see inside my jumbled mind–fame miraculously transforming rambling into a worthy journey.


The stream of brown consciousness began to flow on my ride to yoga. There weren’t very many cars on the road, which was perplexing because it was 8:15 on a Wednesday morning. My first thought was: is it a holiday? My second thought was: is it really Wednesday? My third thought was: am I on the right road? My fourth thought was . . . I’ll stop numbering my thoughts now.


A feeling of desolation overtook me. The grays and browns surrounding and composing the road epitomized New England winter, something for which I have little love. The leafless tree branches squiggled up in ragged directions with silent moans of black, brown, and gray. Walls of blasted rock ranged in tone from tan to tobacco. Brown. Endless shades of brown, broken up only by shades of gray. Winter shades. Winter colors.


Of course, the tirelessly perky part of me wouldn’t allow the rest of me to wallow. Instead I was cajoled to wonder: why should these colors be less important than their flashier sisters? Shouldn’t myriad variation be marveled at, whatever its form? Brown has as much right to variety as pink or blue. And, who says it isn’t pretty? (Okay, perky girl, simmer down, brown really isn’t all that pretty.)


Interestingly, the more I searched for new shades of brown or gray, the more I found. It’s as though I invented them because I was looking for them. Maybe I was a quantum determiner of color. You know, a quantum decorator. Optimism came back to me while marveling the shades of winter. (Perkiness is, by definition, irrepressible so a positive perspective was inevitable!)


Turning an eye up to the gray sky, while trying to keep the other on the road, I noticed it was composed of grays stroked by purple and other grays deepened to steel. There was a wide swath of chalk white blushed by the chaste kiss of gray. As I searched the entwining segments, one tone reminded me of reprimand, another of forgiveness, and others created a bouquet of sentiment as varied as the colors and language of flowers. All this found in a sky one could easily call gray. Dreary, wintery, gray.


And yet, it was nothing of the sort. It was beautiful, I realized once I took the time to look at it without judging.


Is labeling a sky gray really a type of judgment? Does the designation neutralize its intricate beauty, its complete uniqueness? When I classify color on a mid-winter day do I already anticipate what that color will be? Am I being prejudiced, lazy, or both? And, what is prejudice but being lazy? Lazy with my thoughts. And, how often am I lazy with my thoughts? How many other prejudices are lying in wait to be unearthed by several moments of pondering?


One prejudice that has been fully excavated: the grays and browns of winter are ugly. They are nothing of the sort. They are diverse, beautiful, subtle, and have much to communicate. Where else will I find beauty that has been hidden by my unwillingness to see clearly?


If you’ve made it to the end of this blog that is really about so many more things than I ever meant it to be, I thank you for taking the journey with me and wonder what musings have captured you today? Please share them if you like.


Our thoughts are our own but we are all here together. I’d like to think that by sharing our thoughts we increase our chances of sharing the planet in joy and peace (in any season).


All the best,


  • Ron Delaney

    Lovely and untamed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

    February 23, 2016 at 10:54 pm
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