In another light

With the holiday weekend ahead of me, I made plans. Big plans.

Actually the project wasn’t that big — just repainting the columns on the front porch and a little touch-up around the garage and back patio. But it seemed big because . . . I didn’t want to do it. And because we didn’t have any matching paint.

So I headed out to the big supermarket of building supplies — where all real men wear aprons — with a long skinny piece of painted caulk that wasn’t faded.

The young man behind the counter pointed me to a large display filled with thousands of color cards. “What you’re looking for is over there somewhere.”

And so the quest began. By process of elimination, I worked my way through the shades and tones and elements of style that were obviously wrong. And then I came to a single color card containing three different, yet similar, colors. With great concentration I studied the card beneath the simulated sunlight lamp. I was amazed to see that the center color was an exact match with the sample I had brought.

Afraid to leave it to chance, I polled several other shoppers who came strolling by. I even exacted a confession from the clerk that indeed, “This is the closest match I have ever seen in my 3 months of working here.”

With that sort of affirmation, I bought two gallons of this perfect paint and hurried home.

My wife was also amazed at how well I had done. Or at least she was amazed as she heard my story of my experience. Then she asked to see the color card. Proudly I produced it. Without a word, she took it to the garage door, held it next to the frame and announced, “Wrong color — it’s the one on the right.”

I started to argue, but it was clear that she was right. Minutes later I was standing back at the counter watching the young clerk mix the new paint. “You know,” he said, “you shouldn’t have bought two gallons without taking that color card home.”

The fact that he was right didn’t endear him to me at that moment. But he was right.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how long you study a particular problem, you simply can’t get the best solution until you try it in its true light. Even when others affirm you and tell you that you have the right answer, nothing is certain until you have it in place and you can see how it fares.

Yet, many of us forge ahead with the obvious. Obvious to us that we have found the solution. Obvious to others we haven’t.

I’m thinking it might be a good idea to slow down a bit. Ask those around me for their perspectives. And always take a color card home.

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