The Ebb & Flow of Color Beneath My Feet
In my earlier years, I’d watch with adoration as Mary Poppins and her two children boldly leapt into Bert’s chalk drawings on the Streets of London.
I would rewind this particular scene three and four times over with my sister, immersing myself in a whimsical land filled with nothing more than vibrant, haphazardly-placed dust. I always dreaded the scene's ending when a violent thunderstorm called into question Bert’s artistic interpretation of reality. I even found myself unsettled by his lack of frustration, knowing that day-by-day his drawings would be perpetually scuffed and washed away.
For many years, I’d always dreamed of walking to the very end of Route 66 on the West Coast. Earlier this year, I finally made it to The City of Angels and had just one day set aside to stroll along Santa Monica Pier. As my family awoke that one morning on Hollywood Boulevard, we noticed a light haze looming far away over the coast and an unexpected truth began to sink-in as the car drew closer and closer to our destination. Over night, an incredibly dense fog had rolled over the coast and we would not have our day in the sun.
My loving parents, excited to finally show my sister and I this iconic architectural feat, probably felt like I did as a child, helplessly watching Bert’s paintings fade away.
Fortunately, watching Walt Disney’s masterpieces as a child had prepared me for this exact moment in time. Bert instilled in me the courage to illuminate beauty in the most difficult of circumstances — to find love in a hopeless place, as Rihanna might say. Over time, I’ve learned to avoid focusing on the ebb-and-flow of color beneath my feet and relying on others to inject vibrance back into my life when my surroundings become desaturated.
As you might imagine, I had the time of my life on that invisible pier, finally self-identifying with Bert's cleverly simplistic tune, "I does what I likes and I likes what I do." After 15 years of watching Mary Poppins every now-and-again, one question still remains:
Which masterpiece inspired Walt Disney to give Bert so much courage — to never let his smile break?
If I had to guess, Bert dancing through the chalky Streets of London was preceded by Jay Gatsby, standing in solitude on a foggy pier, reaching endlessly for a green light across the bay:
“[Gatsby had] an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”