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Do you recall the time when you were very young and got your first colouring book and little box of wax crayons? I do. What I also remember though is colouring with passion, freedom and joy. It really didn’t matter if faces were blue, the sun purple, the sky green, the grass red or whether I coloured within the lines! A year later, I was given a new colouring book, with a jumbo box of crayons. This time was different though. I was told to colour within the lines, that certain things were certain colours and that I should conform to that. Then, one year I got a present for Christmas. It was a paint-by-numbers kit. Now, I had to not only stay within the lines, but also use the assigned colour in the designated numbered part so that the picture would turn out the way it was ‘meant to look.’ Here’s where I began to colour my world according to the ‘rules’ laid out.

Everyone around said: Colour within the lines! Don’t be unique! Use appropriate colours…Take the safe path! Be a clone! I realized that everyone expected you to not only colour within the lines, but “LIVE” within the lines!! Over time, this caution translated into: Don’t stand out and flaunt your uniqueness! Don’t speak out! Don’t create an emotional wave that may ripple outward and uplift humanity! Don’t live your joy! You learned there were lines for everything: peer group lines, gender lines, social status lines, racial lines, national lines, religious lines, etc. So, you spent a major part of your life within the lines, conforming to that which is acceptable, taking the safer path, traveling the road well-worn. In the process, you’ve sacrificed your uniqueness, imagination and creativity.

One fine day, I dared to colour outside the lines! I realized that life is more interesting that way. I could already see my canvas turning into a masterpiece. There were no more lines. For me, they had all disappeared. One no longer just paints the trees, leaves, rivers and rocks. One BECOMES the green that splashes across the mountainside, clinging into forms of grass, leaves and branches of tall pines. Then, one returns to tell others about it. To share with others the magic that you have found after you began to ‘colour outside the lines’. That’s what I am doing today.

Colouring outside the lines empowers you. Rules are everywhere you look. You’ve got them for driving, for working, for examinations, but what about living? Who makes those rules in your life? Make sure it’s YOU. The secret to empowering yourself is designing a set of rules you want to live by and creating the life you’ve dreamed of. Colouring outside the lines is all about thinking differently. In life we often try to ape others or do things that we think might make the people around us happy. And very often, we ourselves end up miserable in the bargain. If you’re a square peg, stop trying to fit into a round hole. If you want to be a drummer, stop trying to sound like a guitar or groove like a trumpet. You’ll feel out of tune. If you’re a sportsperson, don’t care how you look. Leave that to fashion models on a ramp. If you’re an artist or love literature and history, or can’t quite understand the latest gadgets, stop worrying about people saying you’re not “cool” enough.       

I invite you all to break out the crayons and paint box, and colour the world with hues of your very own imagination. Paint the world of your dreams and live the life you’ve always imagined. Paint things that others have excluded. Dare to experience life and connect with people outside the rigid lines of your comfort zone. Break through the lines that you’ve learnt to draw all your life or the ones that others have drawn for you that have stifled your growth. Break free and experience the joy of living on your own terms and colouring each day with a new magical colour – this time outside the lines!

Life is all about using the whole box of colours. So, how will you colour your world today, now that the lines are broken?


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