As a child, were you ever fascinated by a kaleidoscope? In this day and age of electronic toys, we still remember what it is, right? It is a hand-held instrument that you look through with your eye. It rotates as you turn the tube; forms change inside it, the result of reflections of two or more mirrors that are angled at each other. Kaleidoscopes change patterns and designs, offering us beautiful images, full of vivid color, and are lovely to examine.
This past weekend, I attended three emotionally moving events. The first took place on Friday night as the university where I work teamed up with the American Cancer Society for its Relay for Life. This overnight event was a rousing success, as students came out to support cancer survivors and walk from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. to raise money for further cancer research. The group that I advise on campus, Dynamic Public Relations, was involved in fundraising as well. The entire evening was moving, from luminaries lighting the walking path and moments of silence, to hearing directly from cancer survivors, to listening to live performances from bands and singers.
On Saturday night, I attended the university’s production of Rent, and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen the stage production. (This is a pretty big admission, especially since I claim to love the theatre as I do and actually keep track of shows I’ve seen). The production was full of energy, and the actors had some pipes on them, belting out the songs; it was such a fantastic way to wind down our semester. Moreover, the themes of friendship, support, love, understanding, acceptance, suffering, and AIDS remain relevant—and always will be relevant. The audience felt the emotions of this show, and at the end, the audience—a packed house—was smiling, crying, and standing on its feet applauding.
On Sunday morning, I attended the Hopewell Cancer Run/Walk. Hopewell provides support to individuals battling cancer. My husband got a team together and we all walked and ran to support a friend who is undergoing the fight. It was early, it was chilly, and it was windy. But it was, indeed, full of hope. Our team of adults and children felt fabulous after we participated and we knew the money raised was going to a great organization.
It’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Working together to help others who need us. It made me think about this idea of life as a kaleidoscope, for when we examine the true definition of a kaleidoscope, it means a “continually shifting pattern, theme, or the like” (dictionary.com). The “like” in this instance is life. We never know when we turn that tube what design we might get, just as we don’t know in life what turns might bring us a new challenge. For some of us it may be an illness or injury, but for others of us, it may be less life-threatening. However, everyday issues can cause us to change and adapt. Simple, but real issues, like how to cope with rejection, how to confront a friend when they’ve hurt our feelings or let us down, or whether to change our childrens’ school, ask us to turn the tube and be prepared for the shift. The change.
Nothing stays the same, even when we think it does. The important thing is to be able to see the change as it’s happening, acknowledge the shift in the patterns of our lives, and be able to adapt to them. In times of trouble or need, we hope we can count on those around us to help guide us through tough times. In all three of the aforementioned instances—Relay, the characters of Rent, and Hopewell—that’s what got folks through. Even though their kaleidoscopes were changing (or continue to change), it’s the support of family, friends, colleagues, and supporters they haven’t even met yet, that help their kaleidoscopes stay in focus and, with some hope, remain full of color.