donderdag 29 augustus 2013

The White Room

Colors are one of the most amazing presents of Mother Earth. Since Ancient Times, people believe that each color has his own power to heal and to make all the children of this Mother happy and alive. Sun, the source of all life, gives us light, which is a spectrum of all colors. In the film world, we work a lot with color symbolism, because every color has also a lot of symbolic meanings, associations... There is a famous book called "If it's Purple, Someone 's Gonna Die". In some beliefs, people connect each main color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) with the seven chakra's, or energy centers in our bodies. I studied physics, as part of my Science studies, and I know every color has the properties of light, so has his own frequency, his own wave length... According to these beliefs, every color, every specific frequency of energy, is connected with color. 

This is the first story I'll write about Colors. I wrote one about "the Color Wizard and the White Queen", in Flemish, which some friends already read some years ago, but I'll translate it soon... 

It is called "The White Room"


Some years ago a friend asked me several odd questions, which were part of his small informal psychological test. My favorite animal? ("That is how you want others see you," he explained.) Where do I prefer to swim? ("That gives more idea about your sex life.") How many flowers do I want in the garden? ("How many children do you want?") The last question is what I would do if I ever would wake up in a white room, without any escape. There are no windows, no doors... just white walls. What would be your first reaction?

Honduras, April 2011
I burnt my nose during this day, which was the beginning
of the development of impetigo. Or...  Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen
(song song of Baz Luhrmann:
Years later I woke up in a white room I couldn't leave. There were big windows, and there was a door, yes, but a disease kept me inside this room. Honduras had given me a last souvenir: impetigo. It is a contagious childhood skin disease. It was not so dangerous, and it also didn't hurt. I just looked like the bride of Frankenstein's bride: I looked like a Dalmation dog, but with yellow spots, which produced some pus. It was disgusting. More and more spots came, like someone Divine Power was coloring me, under the influence of mushrooms. I think I survived one of the most dangerous cities in the world -  Guatemala City- where I stranded during my return at night, several hours before I expected to arrive, because I looked even to scary for bad spirits. Every disadvantage has his advantage, they say...

In this White Room, the nurse came twice a day, to disinfect every yellow spot. They helped me to wash myself in the shower, because I had 24 h/24h an infusion. The disease was developed so hard that only antibiotics directly in my blood would help. Again, I was not in danger. It also would heal after a month, but I would keep many scars, where all the spots came. I still have a scar of this disease, after more than 2 years, on the heel of my left foot.
I hated that infusion fact. I hate needles, and certainly when the infusion is almost empty and it starts to suck blood. From the moment I see the red liquid in the plastic tube, I fainted almost. I was not happy to take a shower, with that thing also in the shower. I remember I almost scared my own doctor, because when he took blood from my arm, I fainted, and almost pierced myself. Since that doctor's visit, he always let me lie on the bed, when I do a blood test. "Just in case," he always says.

In this White Room I woke up, and I couldn't leave. Some friends called me. My mother brought me some books, but not the books I asked. I ended up with childhood books, for 6 year olds.
It was so boring to sit there. The doctor told me I probably need to be in the hospital for a whole week. It seemed like an eternity.

When you're in a prison, in the first moments, you think you've the whole freedom to do everything you always wanted to do. But then, when you feel stuck, the air takes away all your breath, so dreams and plans just fade away into the nothing, and you just wait before you can leave this white room.

I knew I was going to leave this room, but I lost dreams. You start to think about things which doesn't really matter, but the eternity, the time...  becomes your biggest enemy. Fear that you'll never will leave this room, is like a poison, darkening your heart and your mind, and then you start imploding.

In the end I was not afraid to see my blood, the only colorful thing in this white room. It was full of life.

Honduras, April '11: This picture of the trees in these ruins,
would have been the cover of the novel. Maybe one day it will be a cover picture.
I am still writing about baobabs, dryads... and immortality.
In that time I started to write a novel, which I call "the baobabs from Madagascar". I think the idea is born there. It is fantasy, but I coupled the theme: "eternal life". Some characters choose, others are chosen for, to have an eternal life, as a dryad, a tree nymph. It is not only the fantasy I love to write about, the escapism, but also the question how you would react when you hear you live forever, when you really wake up in a white room. From the moment you got stuck in a white room, when you get stuck in some eternity, and the only escape is death, there is nothing worse. In this novel the story also started in the ruins of Honduras, which are dominated by big baobabs.

White rooms, without escape, are everywhere. It can be eternal life, it can be a hospital room, it can be a resting place, or it can be your own house, where dreams, plans fade away... because it all seems no sense. I left this white room, and was then more sure that I wanted to do this world travel, and find all the colors of the world, by traveling, and not getting stuck in any white room, or not for too long.

I remember what I replied to this friend. "I will try to find an escape."
He smiled, and said: "There is no escape. Don't think too much about it. How would you react? What is the first thing that pops in your mind?"
I saw this white room. Too high light exposure, so this image also blinded me.
"I guess I will be afraid... "
Then, he explained: "This is how you think about Death."

I thought that White Room I wake up, after my journey in Honduras, was not Death.
It was worse ...  It was fear...
Fear that I will never see all the apart, individual colors in, behind this white.
Maybe if fear really darkened your heart, maybe then you're really dead.
In some symbolic way.

Who can save yourself, then? Who can raise up people from the death?
Who can make Pinokkio, stuck in wood, and all his ropes, alive?


The story the White Queen and The Color Wizard is more narrative than this, but I think this can be a good introduction, to understand this story. One of these days I'll publish it, and this will wear the label of "winter", while this has the label "fall", because here I went into the darkness, but by the other story we will go into the darkness, and then -together with the Color Wizard- find every color back. 

I also live back now in Belgium, in a big, beautiful house, alone, and I feel confronted with many white rooms. My grandmother moved to a resting home, and it is for her scary. But I already felt, she lived her whole life in a white room, becoming a plant, without too many dreams, passions... She never traveled. She really lived in that house, that street... I always tried to escape this house, to become the opposite of her, because I am so afraid to become a plant, but I always come back, for some reason. Life is like a cycle. And I feel a bit sad here, being alone, in a house I cannot share, but maybe the future will bring house mates. I have since today a car, so friends and family are not so far away... 
I am not a house person. I know :). In other times, I was maybe a Celtic bard, going from one town to another, singing stories and legends... 


This story is for her, and for myself, declaring I'll make from this house something else than a white house. Soon, the ugly living room, will be transformed in a room full of colors,beauty, and music, played on a gramophon. A friend from the film school visited me this evening, and we talked this house can be used as a set for a future short film, as base for a dream (project)... so maybe the best reaction to "What will you do if you wake up in the White Room" can be that you'll just start painting it... 

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