So far, my time in West Virginia has been lit by two spirit guides- the colors mustard and brown. I used to hate these muddy earth tones, but since moving here I have craved them like a drug. Every morning must begin with a brown or mustard coffee mug, and every evening must end with brown checkered curtains drawn over windows filled with amber glass.
If it wasn’t for brown and mustard, I’m not sure how I would have survived the extreme isolation. After all, the only person I know here is James, and he spends most of his time at work. A more practical person might make an effort to actually meet people, but, as for me, I can’t be bothered.
Because, for starters, despite feeling depressed by the isolation, I could never be sure if it was the ACTUAL isolation that was dragging me down, or just the IDEA of isolation. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by the idea that being alone is not only dangerous to your health but an indication that you are an unloveable creep. James, on the other hand, frequently reminds that there is no one I admire who didn’t spend a good deal of time in isolation.
Still, all this alone time left me feeling depressed and despondent. It felt as though my self was dissolving, and there was no one there at all, just an emptiness. And only the colors of mustard and brown could touch this hollow feeling, throwing handful after handful of dirt into the sad gully. After 9 months of their earthy influences, I no longer feel isolated or alone at all, despite the fact that my situation has in no way changed.
From mustard, I learned the reality of hope- that no problem lasts forever- and also the virtue of endurance. Sometimes, victory consists of simply hanging on and persevering until circumstances change of their own accord.
From brown, I learned the brain’s magic power to brighten to gloomy corners of our life. If our external life is temporarily dark and depressing, we can generate a light from within simply by engaging our intellect. I found that as long as I kept my brain engaged and stimulated, by studying math or chemistry for example, that it was actually impossible to feel depressed or lonely.
At times, I did feel superstitious about the potential hazards of overusing my brain, having tended to see the brain and heart as opponents, with one gaining ground only at the other’s expense. But eventually, I discarded this notion. After all, the heart craves things and people to relate to, and it is the brain who supplies us with these friends by illuminating the people around us, and sometimes by illuminating the friend-filled world inside our mind.
So far, my favorite intellectual pastime has been chemistry, a subject which seemed so cold and chalky in school. But now I find it heartwarming to get to know the elements and to witnesses their relationships dramas, which seem so much to mirror our own.
Still, as nice as it has been, spring fever is now reminding me that I can’t remain in this mustardy, brown cocoon forever.