Say, you are going through a stressful time at work and are swamped with deadlines or are going through a rough patch in your relationship; don’t these feelings spill over into other areas of your life? Everything feels gloomy, life seems frustrating. And with big black clouds looming over your head, you could not be bothered about the rainbow already amidst them.
Life is generally viewed as a series of ups and downs, successes and failures. Hence, when we are going through a tough time, we sometimes view joy as something that has to achieved or conquered. We wait for “suffering to end” and hope for joy to be waiting at this end.
What we forget is that happiness can exist alongside. Maybe not in big, obvious ways. But in small moments. Like the rainbow.
Stories have always remained powerful in the way that they make us understand and relate to experiences. One of the stories that poignantly brings up this message is “The Color Purple”.
The Colour Purple is a book in the form of letters addressed to God but it focuses on the life of a 14 year old girl Celie. Celie has had a very difficult life and struggles with incidents of chronic abuse and trauma. Having gone through so much, naturally, she barely notices life’s beautiful aspects.
Take a minute and think about the colour Purple. What comes to your mind? Most of us associate it with purple flowers, the colour of royalty, the fragrance of lavender. But for Celie, purple meant the colour left behind by bruises, and by beatings, and scars that don’t fade away. At the beginning of the book, you could say that Celie has no sense of the color purple, in the way we associate it.
Her pain is so consuming that she’s not stopping to smell the roses. However, later Shug (another central character that Celie is influenced by) points out to her that she should not stop herself from enjoying life. When they were in a field of purple flowers, Shug tells Celie to look at the flowers and embrace their beauty. Shug is the person who points out the concept of the colour purple to Celie. Shug says that life has little things for people, like the colour purple, just to make people happy and give them glimpses of joy, no matter what they are going through. It helps Celie realize that she no longer needs to deny the feeling of happiness when there is pain.
“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering ‘bout the big things and asking ‘bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”
― Alice Walker, The Color Purple
Maybe you will read the book, maybe you won’t. But today, look within. Try and notice when your mind is stomping away without noticing little moments of joy; the color purple. You might have had a bad day, or a bad month. The little joys may not erase that feeling. But they work their charm in subtle ways. So today, let’s stop to smell the roses?
This message, and perspective of the book ‘The Color Purple’, is our counselor Nandita’s sharing. At Inner Space, she works therapeutically with adults and relationship difficulties.
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Image Credit: Alice Walker, the Color Purple