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The color blue to you, the color blue to me

a rose is a rose is aGranted, I live in a place that is considered to be a vacation paradise. And granted, I used to feel that way when I didn’t live here. And granted, I still do feel that way some days, but having lived here for a couple of years, many days it just feels like ‘home’ or ‘the place that I live’.

So, I was shocked today when, as I was on my way to do something as mundane as possible (in this case, getting gas), I saw a woman contorting her body in the weirdest way in the fire department parking lot. What in the world is she doing? I’m thinking to myself. And then it became clear. She was taking a picture of the fire truck’s license plate. Not even the big fire engine, mind you, but the fire truck, the one that looks like a big red pick-up truck with a decal on the door…because that’s exactly what it is.

Back in the 80’s, Dennis Miller put out a comedy record called The Off-White Album. And even at the ripe old age of 15, the raunchy, sarcastic wit on this album did not get past me. No, sir. In particular and in one segment, he made rabid fun of pot smokers and mused about a stoner pondering life’s big questions in the midst of his dazed high. In the voice of an uber-stoned Bill or Ted, he asked “How do I know that the color blue to you…is the same color blue to me.”

I remember really thinking about that and freaking myself out a wee, tiny, little bit.

And I think that we can all agree that the woman with the camera in the parking lot today proves that Dennis Miller and his stoner were really onto something. Because to that woman, the license truck was picture-worthy, exciting, something to write home about. To me – cantankerously and jaded, perhaps – it was a dented piece of metal, just a license plate.

Can any two people look at the same object or have the same experience and feel, see, hear, smell, taste and analyze it the same way? Is a rose just a rose?

I’m going with no. (And if you do some research, you’ll see that Gertrude Stein didn’t think it was either.) It’s part of what makes writing (and reading) (and blogging) (and practically everything) so exciting – there are as many interpretations as there are fingers, eyes, ears, noses, mouths and minds. The experiences may be similar, but not the same. Even without the pot.

Image credit: atomicshark

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • bklein34 says:

    Definitely agree (and learned a long time ago) you can’t define others’ happinees, preferences and desired experiences as what would be equal to yours. Always marvel at how what I would think is totally boring can be exciting to someone else and vice versa.

    That being said, I gotta hand it to you. I don’t think this blog would have generated from me had I seen that woman. More likely, I would have tweeted something snarky and unimportant like, “people can be idiots.”


  • Julie, i like your perspective of other people’s perspectives.

    Hope you had a great anniversary & that the Joyous Owl gift was a hit!

  • Jason says:

    Yeah, like the tourists I saw taking a picture while standing in front of the marker at the Aquinnah Cliffs? They were blocking the stone & marker, so I doubt they will remember what the pic was actually of. :)

  • Jason says:

    BTW, who the hell is Dennis Miller? :P

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Jason! How old are you anyway?! Really? Surely you jest.

    This brought so many thoughts to mind, most of them off topic, but whatever.

    1. That no two people perceive something the same way is probably why there is always someone somewhere who will interpret something I write (or you write or anyone else writes) in a totally unintended way.

    2. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to perceive the world through someone else’s senses and thoughts for a day? Talk about a mindblower.

    3. I’ve always wondered about people who take endless amounts of photos and video. Like, sometimes at museums, I see these people who walk around with a video camera glued to one of their eyeballs. It makes me wonder if they are ever experiencing the place to begin with. How can you re-experience it later on video or photo if you never were truly present the first time around? It’s like collecting experiences rather than really having them.

    Now, I’m off to get my hair colored. What color it will eventually end up looking like? That will depend on who is looking at my hair, eh?

  • Stuff like this is the reason there are so many different kinds of art, music, and many other things. Not everyone is the same, and its so much better that way.

    sometimes a license plate is just a license plate, but other times its art. It doesn’t matter if its only art to one person or a million.

  • Andi says:

    I always say that is what makes the world “spicy.” Everyone’s vision of what the world is unique and it the exploration of the differences that make life interesting.

  • Joker_SATX says:

    See, and I don’t think that this is where the fun is. I feel that what we get most out of life is when you communicate to me your interpretation of Blue. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it exciting. That is why I read blogs. To take a gander at the world through the eyes of another…..

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