The Yellow Living Room


fingers and door

Our living room was yellow. Not a bright, neon yellow. A sort of muted yellow. The kind that you might call cream in certain lighting. It wasn’t what we would have chosen but it wasn’t a bad color. It wasn’t offensive and it didn’t clash with anything we brought with us. Which is probably why it stayed around for so long.

We hung our pictures and artwork on the nails the previous owners left behind. And where our decor didn’t match theirs in size or shape, we improvised. We didn’t make choices or decisions. We simply hung our lives on the nails that someone else had put in place. The faded outlines of this home’s former life peeked out behind ours but we were moving so fast we barely noticed.

I was fine with the yellow. More fine than I should have been, probably. But, you know, there are other things to pay attention to. Lunches to pack and playdates to plan and forms to fill out and deadlines to meet. When you only breeze through your house, rushing from one thing to the next, the colors all blur together anyway. Who has time to think about the color of a wall when there are mouths to feed and crumbs to pick up and a life to live in between?

So it bothered him before it bothered me. But once he noted it I couldn’t help but agree. The yellow had to go. So we picked out a color and bought some paint and carved out some time in the long Thanksgiving weekend. And he pulled out the nails and patched up the holes and rolled a new shade of grey to cover up all of that yellow.

And suddenly, the room felt like ours. We decided and chose and made plans and we did it and it wasn’t as hard as we’d thought it would be.

Life moves and it moves so darn fast and it doesn’t stop. It will move you with it, just sweep you up and usher you along and you can ride the stream and float along, never once making a choice or planting a stake or picking a direction. You can live your life on the hooks that someone else has placed there for you.

I know you can, because I have.

But I don’t want to anymore.

“I want to be awake to my life.  Awake to my family’s life.  To the lives of all those I love.  To the world around me in all its wounded splendor.  If I am wide awake – not anxious, not fearful, not hesitant, not impulsive – through my open eyes I begin to see the paths of possibility, almost as if they were outlined in neon.”

~Dani Shapiro

My word for 2015 is “intent.” Because as my husband dragged a paintbrush across our living room walls, it became absurd to me that we’d lived with someone else’s choice for more than two years and hadn’t ever found it to be ridiculous. That we’d walked by nails sticking out of our walls for more than two years and never once stopped to so much as yank them out. And then I realized how often I am not awake to my life. How often I just jump from one hook to the next, delighted that someone else has already done the work, without ever stopping to pick up a hammer myself. I can’t complain about where floating along has taken me. After all, I’m right here and I like it here. But where would I be if I started to choose?

This year, we’ll find out.

In the meantime, I know we are six days into the year now and 2015 is already moving steadily along but I promised a new quote to begin the year, by the ever wise about New Years Neil Gaiman, and I intend to keep my promise (see what I did there?). So here it is. You’ve, no doubt, read it already as I’ve seen it in my feeds over and over but it’s a good one and if you’re starting your Tuesday and already feeling the drag of being back in the routine, then you need to read it again anyway.

“May your coming year be filled with magic & dreams & good madness. I hope you read some fine books & kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art (write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can). And somewhere, in the next year, I hope you surprise yourself.”

~ Neil Gaiman



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