a Few Words
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a Few Words

Without Shadows, You Can’t See What’s Beautiful in the Light

You need contrast, even if you hate it at the time

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In every problem hides a treasure. You just have to uncover it and hold it up to the light. It’s the darkness it reflects, though, that makes it visible.

As a side-hustle I painted on silk years ago.

“I’d love a painting of my dog on one of your white scarfs.”

“Sure. Email me a photo” I said, bright-eyed — pleased to receive an order to help pay the bills.

An hour later, with the snapshot of her furry pal on my computer screen, I sat pondering how to handle the task.

The dog was the whitest shade of white I’d ever seen. And she wanted the silk scarf left white, so no chance of using a background color to help the painting become visible.

Hmm…

Perplexed, since I’d never painted a white animal before, I knew I must put on my thinking cap to solve my dilemma.

So I found a white cat strolling along the street near my home to study. I looked and looked until it was clear nothing is truly white. Especially not an animal — not for long after leaving what I affectionately call a ‘pooch parlor’ where they are scrubbed, anyway.

They roll, get covered in dust and dirt. Besides — and here’s the biggest kicker — everything has shadows, no matter the time of day. Its contours cast a bluish gray tinge that makes its purity stand out.

Indeed, everything white shows up because there’s always contrast to make it perceptible.

I turned my new theory over again.

Everything white shows up because there’s always contrast to make it stand out enough to be seen.

“Well, that explains everything,” I decided. Without mistakes and setbacks, and pain and suffering, health and well-being won’t be visible.

We need a shaded backdrop for our lives, otherwise, we can’t see what’s amazing and wonderful, even though it’s right in front of us.

I set to work and painted the dog with the ever-expanding range of colors that became visible the more I focused.

My customer: “It’s beautiful! I particularly like how you captured my dog’s expressive face and the glint in his eyes.”

Me: “So glad you love it!”

No doubt, she didn’t give a thought to the ‘all white’ dilemma that struck me dumb for a short while. But that’s okay. It was my lesson, not hers.

In every problem hides a treasure. You just have to uncover it and hold it up to the light. It’s the darkness it reflects, though, that makes it visible.

This story is published in a Few Words, Medium’s brand new publication which only accepts stories that have less than 500 words.

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✨ Bridget Webber

✨ Bridget Webber

5.4K Followers

Writer, former counselor, author, and avid tea drinker learning how to live well.