The Color Blue
Me? I’m nobody.
Or at least, I’m no one in particular. My interests are very basic. I like old cars, girls with slim hips, Coca-Cola, cheeseburgers medium-rare. I am tempted to add something more exciting about myself, but there’s not much. “I also like deviled eggs,” I almost just typed in a spurt of attempted interestingness. But that’s not interesting. Most people like deviled eggs, or at least a lot of people do. At least 50% of people enjoy deviled eggs. So this does not make me interesting.
My favorite color is the color blue. Sometimes, if I want to mix things up, I say that my favorite color is “blue-gray,” but really, it’s just blue. This is likewise not completely fascinating. You are not going to stop conversation at a party by proclaiming that your favorite color is blue. There is no record-scratching noise upon this announcement. “Blue?” no one ever says. “Really?” It’s the most standard favorite color to have. Any other color would be better: Mauve, maybe. Or orange, even.
…Ancient people had no word for the color blue. This seems very odd until you think about it, and then it makes sense. Very few things in nature are blue: a few birds, a few flowers and that’s it. There are of course, two big exceptions to this rule. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to think of them.
Right. Yes, of course. The two big exceptions are this: the sea and the sky. These are both clearly blue.
…So why, in that case, was there no word for “blue” in ancient times? For a simple reason. The sea and the sky are both all around you, all the time. The sky is always there. So ancient people didn’t need to call the color of the sky by a name. Instead, they just called it “the sky.” The same thing for the sea. People in ancient times didn’t travel around a lot. They didn’t take vacations. So if you lived by the sea, then you always lived by the sea. So again, instead of naming the color, they just called it by its name. …Sea, sky.
Here’s the thing: Everyone wants to be unique, of course. But we are not all of us going to be unique. And if we were, that’d be a different problem. If we were all unique then that’d mean that… no one was unique, which would also be a problem. But anyway — we are not all of us, by definition, going to be unique.
Right now, I’m wearing blue jeans and a gray t-shirt. If you passed me on the street, would you even notice me at all? It seems doubtful. We don’t notice what is omnipresent. This is the lesson of the color blue. I would like to be more… noticeable, but doing that might involve changing my interests. But I can’t change my interests, because my interests are my interests. I can’t switch from blue to mauve, because I just like what I like.
But still, I would like to be noticeable. I don’t want to be invisible, part of the background, blue. …And I worry. What if, by the end of this essay, you have already forgotten my name?
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