Tuesday, July 23, 2013

See the World through Rose-Colored Glasses!

So many good things come in... pink. Strawberry sorbet from musical ice-cream trucks and cotton candy at the street fairs, summer sunrises and kiss-swollen lips, blushing cheeks and fields of waxy tulips, gemstones and star fish... Pink is the color of lightness, of joy, of whimsy...
No wonder the idiom "rose-colored glasses" describes hopeless optimists, those of us who see reality in a soft, rosy glow of hope, those who find beauty in the smallest, most mundane things. Often though, the phrase is uttered with a kind of smirk, with a kind of mocking pity, often it is meant to ridicule those who refuse to sink into bleakness of day-to-day life -- the dreamers, the fools!
Its origins remain  a mystery to this day, although there are a few interesting theories. The idea of an idyllic rose-colored worldview can be traced back to at least the 17th century. Some suggest that the popularity of romantic imagery in Victorian artwork inspired viewers to associate optimism with the rose gardens and deep reds they saw. Viewing the world through rose-colored glasses could be an extension of adding extraneous roses to liven up a painting or decoration.
Others talk of early mapmakers and their special corrective lenses. Because map making required a great deal of attention to detail, mapmakers needed to keep the lenses of their eyeglasses especially clean and scratch-free. It is believed by some that these mapmakers would use rose petals to clean any dust or other contaminants from their lenses. The rose petal's natural oils would protect the lenses, but often left a rose-colored stain. Therefore, viewing the world through rose-colored glasses would be the equivalent of focusing all of one's attention on the smallest details and ignoring the realities of the larger world around him or her.

The idea of looking through filtered lenses was a familiar one by the 19th Century. Some people may have been accused of looking through blue or green-tinted glasses, which would have altered their perception of reality. Perhaps the same concept of a filtered worldview was applied philosophically to eternal optimists who preferred a sanitized or filtered version of reality to the one they were forced to live in by circumstances beyond their control.

One of the most entertaining theories suggests that the "rose-colored glasses" were not eye wear at all, but rather bar glasses. Viewing the world through the bottom of a glass containing red wine or rose-colored spirits might be considered the same as cockeyed optimism. Whether the soft-focused worldview was inspired by alcohol or an optimistic philosophy, it was argued that a person looking at a situation through rose-colored glasses was making a conscious choice to accept or not accept certain realities.

Whatever the origin of the phrase may be, I am a firm believer that our world is as bleak or as bright as we paint it in our minds, in our hearts and in our vision. I believe in recognizing loveliness in the most overcast day, because if you look close enough, if you really open your eyes, you would see the colors, glittering just under its surface, not only the pinks, but the full thousand-hued rainbow of possibilities. Trust me, it's there. So, if all you find around is drabness and greyness, don't look away, don't avert your eyes, instead look for that shimmer of brightness. Be that dreamer. See the world through rose-colored glasses!





 all photos via Pinterest




  1. Thank you! Loved the story and the photos! Also, wanted to mention, and you probably know this... that red lenses help the eyes adjust to low lighting and improve one's night vision, by filtering out lower wavelengths, and revealing a brighter panorama. I like to paint at dusk wearing pink lenses

  2. Painting at dusk sounds delicious! I should try this while wearing rose-tinted glasses (yes, I do own a pair!).