Inside The Lines

Harold takes his purple crayon and draws himself a balloon so he doesn't tumble to his death.

I’m not doing it, but I know people who are. They say it’s relaxing. They find it a creative outlet. Some find it mindful. Some are obsessed, as people are when they embrace a new activity.

Adult coloring.

When I first heard the term, I thought it had to do with a type of sex play. I didn’t read those shades of gray “books,” but the popularity of adult coloring and safe S&M porn for the bookclub set were overlapping if not simultaneous.

If it wasn’t sex play, maybe it was adult themed coloring. You know, NSFW stuff. Don’t look at me that way. It’s a reasonable thought. I mean why else would they modify the action of coloring with “adult?”

I was wrong. There really isn’t much difference between adult coloring and just coloring. You get a piece of paper with a line drawing and you take your crayons or special pencils or even paints, I guess, and you color.

Remember all of those affirmations about it being cool to color outside of the lines? That we won’t be constrained by the rules imposed by our mean first grade teachers? That we will push beyond prescribed limits and put our pens wherever the hell we want to? No more. It’s all about playing within the lines. Au revoir, adios and adieu freedom.

It’s about the constraints. The comfort of knowing where you are supposed to be. The certainty of limits. Success via conforming. A new coloring order.

Folks can go online and download coloring sheets to print out and color. For ten bucks, you can go to Target and buy a Crayola™ branded book of “folk art” for your coloring pleasure. “Folk art” is a euphemism for cartoons that are easy for people to color. Big blocks of spaces to fill in with your favorite colors. Here’s how they sell it:

Lose yourself in a complex-but-relaxing coloring art activity with these captivating, bold, and colorful images. Includes 80 detailed art patterns on high-quality paper. Perforated for easy tear out and framing.

My favorite part? “Perforated for easy tear out AND FRAMING.” Emphasis, of course, mine. I would love to see that person’s bill from Michaels. Eighty from one book. All framed! Their hallways are covered in framed coloring pages of primitive cartoon chickens.  Or even worse, imagine being on their Christmas list.

Here’s the thank you card:

Thanks, Friend, for the thoughtful, framed coloring page of that rooster and the pig in the farmyard! You really are making me think about roosters differently. And is that Crayola™ crayon shade Barn Red? Thanks again, but next year, please don’t go through all that trouble for me. Love, Doc

Seriously, I love that people are enjoying simple, mindful or even mindless activity. I bet that people who are coloring see their breathing and heartbeat slow down, their brain waves relax and tension levels drop exponentially.

It’s cool that you color. I mean I write this stupid blog. Go on now. You do you.

Tell the Doc what you think!

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