I never thought I’d see the day where life seemed bleak for the entire planet. I’ve been oscillating between moments of fear and panic, tears streaming down my cheeks, to joy and gut-splitting laughter when video chatting with family and friends.
As all of you know, when life seems bleak, it can feel as if all colour has drained from your world. Everything becomes black and white. Everything becomes heavy. You could be in a vibrant, spring garden surrounded by blossoms of pinks, blues, yellows and greens, but none of it will matter (unless of course you have seasonal allergies in which case it very much will matter but for a very different reason).
As a fan of black and white photography, I don’t necessarily agree that having the colour drained from your world is a bad thing. I think grayscale photography provides a sliver of hope. It allows us to imagine, for ourselves, what the colours in an image might be. It allows us to be the creators of the world that we’re glimpsing. It allows us to paint by numbers with whatever colours we want.
That’s why I love the photography of Diane Arbus. Her images, showcasing those who are often shunned or ignored by society, fill me with hope. Their beauty lies not in vibrant, saturated tones, but in emotion. In the ability to come face to face with someone you might not notice in the street and see them - all of them. The beauty lies in being able to connect in that moment and see yourself in the photograph, and to paint, with your mind, the colours you want to see.
I believe that often it’s all a matter of shifting perspective, and choosing what to focus on. We should recognize the bad in the world, but if we dwell on it, we will undoubtedly drown in despair. But if we take time to give thanks for what we do have, and focus on things that make us smile, that can make a world of difference. When I’m feeling particularly hopeless about the state of things, I’ll often visit The Happy Broadcast on Instagram. Instead of the usual barrage of doom and gloom we see in the news, this account showcases “anxiety-free news.” It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s hopeful and it makes me smile. Check it out.
Sometimes, when I can’t shift my perspective and I’m in such a mood that I scoff at accounts like the Happy Broadcast, I’ll lay around watching videos. I consume the usual fare of things that will make me weep and feel less numb: soldiers returning to their loved ones, people receiving dogs as gifts, old couples that have been together for decades.
My favourite thing to watch, though (and looping back to colour), is videos of people seeing colour for the first time. According to a quick google search, colour blindness affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. Some people just confuse colours - often green and red - but there are some people with a condition called achromatopsia - where they can only see shades of grey. Which is why videos like this one make me cry like a baby.
Ultimately, I think the only thing we really have in life is hope. Hope that we’ll see colour again, hope that even when things are bleak, we can take a moment to think about what we do have, and hope that the people around us will take care of us when we need it. That someone, somewhere, will notice our pain and feel it with us until it goes away.