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Feeling blue?

January 27, 2010

Why is blue associated with sadness?

Is ti because blue is the colour of rain, and rain is sad (because it’s like the sky is crying but also because the wetness reminds me of tears, and the wetness inevitably leads to coldness and/ or curling up in bed or on the couch– both of which, if done for extended periods of time lead to a different kind of sadness to depression but still sadness none the less.)?

Or is it because when blood has no oxygen in it, it turns blue, and a blood cell with no oxygen is like a lover with no beloved, and this in itself is a sad state indeed?

Or is it because when you die your lips turn blue, and we are all trained from birth to think of death as a sad thing (and in my opinion, at least, if I like the person who has died, and especially if I love the person who has died, it IS a sad thing)?

Or is it because when it’s raining, usually the sun is gone too? In Scotland, it rains a lot. An awful lot. More than you’d think it was possible to rain, and DEFINITELY more than it should rain on a single group of people, as evidenced by the distinct lack of bubbliness in the people as a whole. And rightly so. I wouldn’t want to smile a lot if I had bad teeth* and the sun hadn’t come out for months on end. What’s there to smile about when the sun has disappeared or possibly even died (please refer to aforementioned point on death and turning blue to see why this might be sad)?

Or maybe because blue is the colour of stagnation. When I was leading a man through the sun salutations a few months ago, he was in pretty bad shape. He’d just had a couple of major surgeries and when he was breathing this cloud of blue-ness would hang around his face, and then go away, and then come back, and then go away. Stagnation. Life is movement. Stagnation leads to death (please refer to aforementioned point on death and turning blue to see why this might be sad). He’s still  alive, mind you. I think all that deep breathing got stuff moving.

But then, on the other hand, blue is the colour of forget-me-nots, which are pretty little flowers indeed (and they used to grow in the front garden of the house I grew up in and I think they might have even been the first flower I learned the name of– because how could you forget?). And of the sky. The sky when it’s sunny, and the sky when the clouds clear. It’s the colour of the sea in the carribean in those pictures of those beaches that are supposed to be paradise even though I’m pretty sure that nobody alive has actually seen paradise. I used to look at those pictures and think that these places weren’t actually reachable (ooh… maybe that’s why they’re seen as paradise) and the first time I ever went to Hawaii I went looking for one and I think I found it but sometimes these things are better off being unreachable. It’s the colour of the sea in other places too– places that I’d much rather spend all of eternity than in a timeless photograph. And if you jump in then you’re completely surrounded by blue (and by plankton) and suspended in stillness while the blue world moves around you. Like being in a big grown-up-ocean-womb. Which isn’t really sad at all, though can be kind of scary sometimes if there are sharks and jellyfish and monsters lurking nearby.

Maybe it’s a semantic issue. Maybe there are really two blues, and nobody got the memo.

*No Scottish egos were harmed in the typing of this post.

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