Tangled up in blue.

I don’t know why the color blue always seems to be associated with sadness, from the “blues” to Bobby Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.”  For someone who’s partially color blind in the blue-green spectrum, I love blue.  I must admit my daughters often have to correct me.  No, Dad, that’s not blue, it’s purple. Once, when I was single, I bought a blue couch from Ikea that had turned green by the time it was delivered.  No daughter, wife, or girlfriend around to straighten me out.

Before it was diagnosed, I always thought I was just color stupid.  Or perhaps it’s just that I like blue so much that I want other colors to be blue.  I may mistake certain shades of green or purple for blue, but never blue for anything else.  At least most of the time.

Blue makes me happy.  Perhaps it goes back to my Catholic childhood when May was the month of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Blue was her color.  At my parochial school we would have processions on brilliant spring afternoons to crown a blue-robed statue of the Virgin with flowers.  Who wouldn’t be happy to get out of class on a Friday afternoon and be outside in the warm spring air, knowing we’d be going home for the weekend right after the ceremony?

Nowadays I like to chant the mantra to the Blue Buddha, the medicine Buddha whom we ask to send happiness, peace, and healing.  Also I chant the Great Compassion Mantra to the “blue-necked” bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.  Buddhists took the epithet “blue-necked” from the Hindu description of Shiva, whose neck turned blue from holding poison that would destroy the world in his throat.  The compassion of Avalokitesvara is also so great that s/he goes down to hell to rescue the damned and will not leave this world of suffering until we are all freed.

In Western culture we associate love with the color red.  To me, blue conveys the power of love.  I’ve described previously how the power of pure blue overwhelmed me when Laura and I saw Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” on her last visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  On a recent visit I was struck by the blue in many of the ceramics in the Islamic Art section. I love blue and I love sharing blue with those I love.

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