Have you ever peered through a kaleidoscope, and marveled at the bits of brightly colored glass as they formed one geometrical shape – and then, with a slight turn of your wrist -- wow! a whole new, unexpected pattern came into view? Maybe you could see a snowflake design, or a hexagon, or a triangle, or a combination of shapes and angles as the colored bits tumbled about and re-formed?
These wonderfully imaginative toys, named for three Greek words meaning “beautiful” “shape” “watcher” –were invented way back in 1816 by a Scotsman named Sir David Brewster. He was a student of the properties of light and also of a branch of physical science called polarization optics. One day, while looking at some objects at the end of two mirrors, he noticed that colors and patterns would be recreated and reformed in an endless variety. And so the kaleidoscope was born! (Brewster eventually contributed more of his creative ideas to lens designs for lighthouses, and, in 1849, to stereoscope designs.)
Those of you who are baby boomers probably remember receiving a kaleidoscope as a gift for your birthday, or maybe for Christmas. But often, it’s been difficult to find kaleidoscopes in stores. Recently, there’s been a renaissance of interest in kaleidoscopes as an art form. And so there are many Web sites (such as www.kaleidoscopestoyou.com ] where you can find wooden, brass, stained glass, even musical kaleidoscopes, jewelry in the shape of kaleidoscopes, and even kaleidoscope kits that enable you to build your own designs.
It occurred to me that a resilient, adventurous person is much like the beautiful colored glass inside a kaleidoscope. How? Well…no matter what surprises (good or bad) life throws at us, we know that we have to react to the twists and turns; we can’t just stand there unmoving. We have to look at the situation and to have the guts to be willing to create a new pattern of living. Events do not stay frozen, and we cannot stay stuck in static mode. Sometimes life events change at lightning speed, and we have to change with them. Maybe the new pattern we create will surprise us by being more beautiful, more thrilling, better for us than the old pattern. (I’m speaking from experience on this……..)
Take a chance! Build your own kaleidoscopic patterns for your life, and see what happens next!
Linda Jay is a writer/editor who is completely in love with words. A publishing professional, she started her career as an advertising copywriter in the Trade Book Department of Little, Brown Publishers in Boston when JFK was president. She’s written profiles and feature stories for national magazine on topics ranging from artists to multimedia enthusiasts to academics and engineers.