Monday, November 8, 2010

My Rosy Glasses

Post by Jenny

I’ve had an ongoing debate with myself as of late. We’ve been enjoying a gorgeous fall season in Northern Colorado—warm days, cool nights, clear blue skies, pretty trees. But I’ve noticed that when I’m out and about with my sunglasses on—which is more often than not—everything looks…better. It’s not a huge difference, but the colors are richer and have more pop—more like a calendar page and less like an average photo I would take.

I first noticed the effect when I was at a stoplight admiring a particularly lovely red maple tree. For some reason, I flipped my sunglasses up to get a true look. And then down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Comparing reality with what I was seeing. Since then, it has become my habit (i.e. annoying compulsion). Whenever I see something pretty with my shades on, I flip them up to get the real picture.

Then I started to feel guilty because I prefer the way the world looks through my sunglasses. (Truly, I can over-think anything.) But maybe I shouldn’t let it bother me. After all, doesn’t ‘improved reality’ make for better fiction? Sure, sometimes truth is stranger/more interesting/more poignant than the very best fiction. But often, reality needs a little tweaking.

So, reality needs fiction. By the same token, fiction also needs reality. The novels I enjoy the most don’t strain credulity to the breaking point, and they don’t bore me with everyday tedium. They strike the perfect balance between what is and what could be, in any genre. They are life, plus imagination.

In my five minutes of painstaking internet research, I couldn’t nail down the definitive origin of the phrase “rose-colored glasses.” It might have something to do with the mapmakers who polished their eyeglasses with rose petals to avoid scratching the lenses. Or it might be a reference to looking through a glass that held red wine, the drinking of which presumably improved the drinker’s perception of the world. (Beer goggles, anyone?)

Maybe I should ditch my sunglasses and see the world exactly as it is. But I think I’ll keep wearing them as a reminder that good writers know how to set the tone…in more ways than one.

How do you like to see the world in your life and in your writing?

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. ~John Lennon

Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there. ~E.H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion

Everything you can imagine is real. ~Pablo Picasso


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I like the quotes. I think reality can be a little too harsh at times (as can fiction) so there’s nothing wrong with tempering it however you can.

Lynn Carlson said...

Thought-provoking post -- thanks! I identify with the experience of something so seemingly unimportant (as discovering the effect of your sunglasses) leading to a perception-altering epiphany.

It really is all about balance, as you say. Reality needs imagination and vice versa.

Patricia Stoltey said...

And then there are those days reality is just too much, so escaping into fiction (reading or writing it) makes everything better, at least for a while.

Sunglasses are useful in lots of ways. I once discovered the only way to see the edges of the road during a blizzard was when I put on the sunglasses. There's a case where it was necessary to sharpen reality.

Jenny said...

I like the word 'tempering,' Jane. It makes me think of ice cream :-)

Lynn, you're right about balance. It's so important in writing and life.

Pat, I'll have to remember the sunglasses trick if I'm ever trying to navigate through a blizzard!

Name: Luana Krause said...

It's good to look at life from a different perspective...or through different "glasses." It can't help but inspire the artist in all of us.

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