If all people were leaves…
By Tom Poland
Suppose people changed colors like autumn leaves. Would it be a better world? It just might. For sure it’d be more colorful. Think about that. Say it’s late November, and your fingertips redden. The tips of your ears take on a bit of red. Each day red covers more of you. Then one fine fall day, you glow all scarlet, basking in autumnal glory. Now you have to get through winter and hope you don’t shrivel, brown, and find yourself gone with the wind, though that day is coming. Put that aside for now.
It’s a dream as far as people taking on palettes of pigments that rival the leaves of autumn. And yet, colors define us. There’s a saying “He showed his true colors.” You’ve heard it. Someone pretending to be nice reveals at last that he’s not such a nice guy. Just as easily could be a she. Bad character and bad habit don’t discriminate.
If people were leaves … it came to me on a cool November sunrise when I stepped outside to look at my leaves. The backlight of a rising sun lit up ’em like so many lanterns afire. But two green leaves seemed to fight the flood of color overtaking their comrades. Those two leaves caught my eye, and a refrain came to me. How many times have I heard someone say, “He/She really began to change after we married, and let me tell you, it wasn’t for the best.” You’ve heard it too.
Though these two leaves were fighting change, their true colors nonetheless were coming out. Suppose you could see peoples’ true colors emerge even if they didn’t want you to. Like Pinocchio’s nose, a change in color would tell us to not to believe a word old so-and-so says. And don’t dare trust that fellow with your money. Marry him? Might stave off some bad decisions wouldn’t it?
Avoiding such characters would just be too easy though, and it’d rob some of us of our ability to see through people, to read them with accuracy. It’d damage our radar. On the other hand we could tell when someone likes us more than they admit.
No, people don’t change colors like leaves but what if they did? What if our bodies involuntarily reacted to situations as a chameleon’s does? We’d possess a type of lie detector, a revealer of character and more. Did you see him back down from that bully? He turned yellow as mustard. When she saw the object of her affection with another woman, she turned green as grass. I saw him a month after she moved away. He’s still blue as blue can be. Man his joke embarrassed her so much she turned red as a beet.
People use the seasons as a metaphor to describe the passage of life. “Old Bill? He’s in the autumn of life.” All is promising in spring, flourishing in summer, transitioning in fall, and fading come winter. All that works for me, but how revealing it’d be if people turned colors like leaves. Avoiding liars, cheats, crooks, and bad choices would just be too easy. We’d leave such people in the dust.
Here in the autumnal South, it’s often cold at daybreak and hot at noon. By sundown a chill reasserts itself. And through it all leaves turn burnt orange, cinnamon, red, gold, and I’ve even seen tints of blue. We look on in awe, thankful deep inside, that we can’t steal the show. For we’ve learned one thing about a person’s true colors. They don’t lie.