12 Apr Forgiving Purple
Amy, with her husband, in her plum bridesmaid dress.
I didn’t like it. Really, I didn’t like it at all. The look of it, the shades of it, basically anything that had to do with purple. Yes, I am talking about the actual color purple. I know it sounds strange but let me tell you how this happened.
It all started many years ago when we hired our first employee, whom I’ll call “Ruth.” My husband and I had just started our Internet web company in our house. We were working full time on Wall Street and spent most nights and weekends building our new business. As our web company began to grow, it made sense to hire someone to help us. We knew Ruth, she was our friend, and she was looking for work so it seemed like a good fit.
Ruth began working with us and everything started off fine. She initially worked Monday through Thursday and she was a welcome “purple breeze” each day as she walked into our home office. Ruth loved the color purple. She wore it all the time. Purple jacket, purple scarf, even purple eye makeup. She talked about how it was her favorite and that it was a very healing color. We enjoyed her enthusiasm, not only about her colorful clothes but also about working for us. It was relieving to be able to hand off some of the things that needed to be handled so that our business could grow and we could have a little breathing room in our lives. But as time went on, things became more challenging. As the months progressed, Ruth seemed disgruntled and increasingly difficult to work with and manage.
After about a year, Ruth left our company. In retrospect, it was a really good move for her and for us. At the time though, although I was relieved that she quit, I was also very disappointed. It was hard to put things in perspective. After all, she was our first employee and had been a friend. It was a loss when she left.
Now 20 years have passed and our company is isn’t just a fledgling part-time dream. No longer is our company housed in our home. We own an office building with a data center and rental space for additional businesses, too. Over the years we’ve had employees come and go and now we’ve built a great team of people, several of whom have been with us for much of that time.
Recently Christina, one of our employees, got married. I felt honored when she asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. And guess what? The color and theme of the wedding was…yup, you guessed it, purple! When I went to the bridal salon with the other bridesmaids, we had a purple party – trying on every dress available until we each chose a style suited to us in shades of grape and plum. Yet in the background my mind was quietly grumbling. Unbeknownst to me, more than two decades after her departure, I was still harboring a grudge against Ruth for leaving. Usually whenever I went to buy clothing I simply overlooked purple as if it didn’t exist. I didn’t give my internal misgivings much thought. I simply got over it. For the wedding I got my nails done up in a pearlescent mauve color, wore a nice shade of lavender eye make up and got hose and shoes to compliment the dress.
A few months after the wedding I attended a seminar called “Step up, Jump In, Let’s Go!” It was a wonderful, energizing weekend course given by Ariel and Shya Kane. As the weekend drew to a close, it dawned on me. For decades, I had been turning my nose up at the color purple. We didn’t talk about it at all during the seminar. I just spontaneously realized that I had been tenaciously holding onto an outdated decision made years before when I’d been upset. It was then I realized that, even though I had difficulty with Ruth, she was important in the growth of our company. With her, I learned a lot about starting a business. Through her, I learned about management. It was then that I forgave her – and myself. Whatever difficulties we had had, it didn’t matter. I silently wished her the best, wherever she was in her life.
I’ve heard Ariel and Shya say that when someone transforms, they transform forward and back in time. I transformed. My relationship to purple and Ruth transformed in that moment, past and future, too. I no longer hold a grudge or resentment toward Ruth for any of the past issues we had. Also, in a strange way, I feel in relationship with her even though I have not spoken to her in years. I am appreciative and grateful for having had her in my life and for the work we did together.
I like the color purple. I know this seems like a simple thing but actually it’s amazing how a disappointment from the past had tainted my view of the world. Or shall I say: colored my world (ha, ha). Now I have a life that is richer with orchid and eggplant, iris and heather. I have a whole new palette that I can enjoy: lavender, plum, lilac, periwinkle, grape and amethyst. And as an added bonus, I discovered that purple looks great on me, too!