Rocket Man

I’m not the man they think I am at home…

Almost everything in my life is related to color, even people. I assign colours to the months of the year, words and letters of the alphabet. Even the people in my life have been unconsciously assigned colours. I’ve shared this newly discovered colourful ‘thinking’ with some close friends and family. It turns out my mom ‘thinks’ in color as do our daughters. A friend commented that she thought this was amazing and proof of our families inviable creativity. I thought so too until a few weeks ago.

Pru and I go for long walk. I listen to Rocket Man written by Bernie Taupin and sung by Elton John as I walk along. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know Rocket Man, like so many of Bernie and Elton’s creative musical babies that I’ve been raised on. I walk and listen while Pru pauses and barks. I like to listen to songs multiple times which I do on this walk.

As a I amble up the lane I realise Rocket Man isn’t about a man going to space. Rocket man is the story, to my mind, of what it’s like to be a man on Earth. Mars is no place to raise kids, but earth can be tricky too. Mars is red and Oxford is blue.

A week earlier the girls and I were having a conversation about colours and people as we walk through Oxford. I ask the girls a heavy question, maybe a question we shouldn’t ask people who think in color. I ask what colors they see me as. They give me a list of few colors, that embodied me and how our lives harmonise in color. We stop for lunch and a few minutes after sitting down out our table the fellow joins us. He sits down and the girls ask him if he thinks of them in colour. He says no and then he asks what colour he is to each of us. I sit across the table for man I’ve been married to for over 17 years and feel self conscious about answering… Blue. The fellow has always been blue. This seemed fitting, my dad’s colour has always been green. Green and Blue. What more could you ask for, I thought at the time, until I started paying attention to the lyrics in Rocket Man.

Mars is no place to raise your kids. The Earth from Mars looks blue and green. What I had missed in my ‘color thinking’ was, besides that not everyone thinks in colour, is that all the men in my life, who I knew and loved were only ever assigned one color. All the women in my life were assigned multiple colors. My color thinking wasn’t creative. It was incredibly simple and if I’m honest a little selfish and cruel.

We often paint the men in our lives with the color we need them to be. Dependable. Forthright. Strong. Steady. They aren’t allowed to be anything other than what we see them as and society has told us they should be. Often the very things society has told women not to be. Rocket Man is about seeing the men in our lives in many colours. Bernie Taupin was painting in words and using every color to create Rocket Man. The words in the song splashed up a spectrum of vibrant colors about this man, that wasn’t a rocket man at all. He never leaves Earth but he’s as lonely as being on Mars.

We ask the men in our lives to be colourful and vulnerable, so we can connect and have more intimacy, but how many of us have used one color to paint our grandfathers, fathers, brothers, husbands and sons? We say we want to see all the colors but that can’t happen if we paint them in one color. The next time we see the men in our lives walk through the front door, pretend their faces are painted in every color imaginable and that they are as fluid and dynamic and vibrant as we can possibly imagine them to be, just like ourselves and our girls.

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