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True colors (11/19/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"What you see is what you get." To be more precise, "You can't make a prince out of a redneck." Or, as Steve Martin would say, "What it is, is what it is."

Anyone who's refurbished old furniture or wood floors, the scraping, buffing, varnishing or painting, can attest to the grueling work involved. Sometimes, what's unearthed isn't near the treasure we'd imagined. We moan, "All that work for this?"

For those, like myself, who are "wabi sabi" and seek out imperfections, in weathered wood, off-plumb and flawed beauty of the natural, and worn artifacts, we shy away from fabricated and flawless manmade creations. Too sterile.

As one might guess, this isn't all about things. There are the lost souls of society, those who wander the streets confused and alone, and the misunderstood misfits who feel that the in-your-face life is unbearable. Their loved ones may send them away to "find themselves" when acceptance is what they're seeking.

People who mean well open doors of opportunity for those less fortunate, which they may be totally unsuited for.

Psychiatrists encourage patients to dredge up childhood traumas and repressed memories, often delusions of the unstable, perhaps misguided mind.

These song lyrics come to mind: "I am what I am ‘cause I have the need to be." Who do you think you are? First and foremost, one has to be true to "self." At the core of the fruit future harvests throb.

I could go either way! It's all about fashion - what's in - what's not! Is it a physical handicap if one is literally unable to wear stilettos and a strapless little number in order to attend black tie gatherings? I literally can't wear pointy-toed shoes. (Arthritis and bone spurs.) My shabby worn New Balance tennies get me where I need to go. Strapless? Go figure.

Does it mean that a gal is definitely a "tailored suit, silk nylons, neck scarf, and dazzling jewelry kind of woman" because it's all coworkers ever see her wearing? Would it be all that shocking to learn that she's actually a warm and cuddly "denim, leather, cotton nighties, and moccasins gal" in her real world?

What you see isn't always as it seems. Take the Harley groupies, those wild men and women of the open road. With their black leather, silver chains and rivets, their tattoos and flowing salt and pepper hair, they proudly rev up their polished "hogs" and form a noisy, handsome chain to Sturgis gatherings and for charity events.

Harley Davidson owners can be intimidating to white collar folks who never seem to get farther out into the world than an office cubicle and the nearby coffee house. But hey, where do these guys and gals come from? Cyclists are professionals from every field imaginable, enjoying their personal hiatus.

"Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!" Out of the blue, a penetrating light floods your mind with reality. Such realizations can be life altering. Discovering a talent late in life...letting go of an old grudge...face to face with death, you aren't afraid...your parents knew best all along...sacrifice is a blessing, not a burden.

We've recently rounded the bend from the season of Halloween, that time for pranks and fun-loving deceptions. Hiding behind a mask, face paint, and a costume is temporary pretense. Success in the greater world, and peace of mind, demands authenticity.

Don't let anyone treat you like a has-been, worn, and tattered piece of furniture. Let your true colors come shining through, even if the original paint job is worn thin. What remains is character.

"Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby!"

Janet Burns, Lewiston, welcomes e-mails and sharing stories with others. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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