Color Codes

In many places, the end of the calendar year is marked by a boisterous holiday season. There is a spectacular frenzy of energy, light, and color. As some families gather and some split apart, it can be a time of incredible joy, frustration, confusion, understanding, and love… there can be so many things to take in all at once. Sometimes there is sensory overload. Overwhelm.

I have spent the majority of the last ten years away from my family, and I am no stranger to the overwhelming mix of feelings and energy particularly at this time. Yet even in our daily lives, we are pretty familiar with this cocktail of sensations. The situations we find ourselves in are rarely purely ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but rather filled with many different labels: a wide palette containing a myriad of colors and shades- obvious and subtle.

Look around you right now. What colors do you see? Perhaps a blue sky, or a grey wall, red apples, or green conifers. Right now I’m looking out from a room in India and even in a seemingly barren landscape there are infinite colors as I observe the dry rice fields. Countless shades of brown, beige, and touches of green… all filtered by a light mist of fog in between.

If you are reading this, you are fortunate enough to be able to experience this world of color also. And upon first instinct, you may think- like I often do- that the objects we perceive actually have color. But do they really?

Within an object’s structure, there is no physical element of color. Objects have a certain pigment, yes, and when that pigment is met with light, some rays are absorbed into the object while others are reflected. Our eyes then pick up these reflections and signals are sent back and forth to the brain, creating an image where our concept of color is created.

Color exists and is created within our own perception. Labels exist and are created within our own perception.

Take a glance around again and look at the objects in sight. Notice all the colors and- for just a moment- entertain the fact that every color you see is being created by you. That actually, you are coloring your world. Maybe you can even see some of those colors when you close your eyes.


The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
-Marcus Aurelius


So when things seem overwhelming- whether it’s through travel, relationships, holiday frenzy, or just the buzz of everyday life… when I find myself in situations labeling things as good, bad, happy, angry, irritating, beautiful… sometimes I just like to take a moment to close my eyes and ask,

How am I coloring my world? What filter, if any, am I using right now?

How do you color your world?

Maybe if we can simply rest and marvel in the abundance of color, the overwhelm can become an overflow. Of wonder. Of life.

Wishing you a bright and flowing end to 2015.

With love,


Kevin Yee-ChanColor Codes