“I am a part of all that I have met.” – Alfred Tennyson
I saw a rainbow the other night. There was a thunder storm in my area, and as the storm broke, the sun was just about to set. The rainbow was a full arc and spanned the whole sky. It was so perfect I wanted to check if there really was a pot of gold at one of its ends.
We all know that a rainbow is made up of each one of the colors of the spectrum, but when you see a rainbow it’s not the individual colors that stand out to you the most. It’s the effect from the rainbow as a whole. The rainbow that I saw was beautiful, but I wasn’t that focused on each individual color, even though I knew they were there.
It’s a paradox that every whole is made up of individual parts. Without the pieces you have no whole, but without the whole the pieces have no place to display themselves. What would it be like to see a “rainbow” that was simply an arc of green? It would certainly get our attention, and yet, there would be something strange about it. Instead of feeling a sense of beauty we would wonder why green was all by itself, even if the green were particularly magnificent.
On the other hand, what if all the colors mixed together? The rainbow would be a strange shade of gray/brown, its individual pieces dulled and the beauty of the whole diminished.
It’s easy to think that to be an individual is to be separate, and that being a part of a group is to be in oneness. And that these two things are opposites; that you have to choose one or the other. But this is just not the case. The best place for an individual to shine is within the group.
There, the individual does the thing that they do best (which is necessarily unique) and gives that thing to the whole. When the other individual pieces do the same thing, the whole becomes more than just the individuals. It becomes a thing in and of itself, but only when the pieces are committed to shining individually.
We suffer from the idea that focusing on yourself, doing what you love to do, and shining as an individual hurts the group. Wrong. The group needs individuals who shine bright. When the pieces fulfill their particular role, then the group can operate as if one being.
Red and Yellow expect each other to shine as brightly as they can in their own way. Yellow does not try to be like Red and Red does not try to be Yellow. Likewise, they don’t sacrifice their brilliance because the other can’t be the way that they can. It is expected that Yellow will be Yellow and Red will be Red. This is how the rainbow works.
When the colors shine as brightly as they can by themselves (but together), the rainbow exists. If they were to tone down their brilliance (in a well meaning gesture not to offend the other colors), the rainbow would cease.
Make it your intention to shine brightly for the whole. You owe it to others. 🙂
Do you find it difficult to act as an individual and to also be part of a group? Can these two things exist at the same time? Feel free to share your answers in the comments.