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I was out running errands yesterday and I passed by a house that was painted hot pink. I mean, like, whoa. My first thought was, “WOW. That’s an interesting choice” but then I remembered this section from The Secret Life of Bees and I had to dig out my copy.
It’s a conversation between Lily, the young protagonist, and August. Lily is living with August and her two sisters, May (who has some emotional issues) and June, in Tiburon, South Carolina. Their house is bright pink.
“There is one thing I don’t get,” I said.
“How come if your favorite color is blue, you painted your house so pink?”
She laughed. “That was May’s doing. She was with me the day I went to the paint store to pick out the color. I had a nice tan color in mind, but May latched on to this sample called Caribbean Pink. She said it made her feel like dancing a Spanish flamenco. I thought, ‘Well, this is the tackiest color I’ve ever seen, and we’ll have half the town talking about us, but if it can lift May’s heart like that, I guess she ought to live inside it.'”
“All this time I just figured you liked pink,” I said.
She laughed again. “You know, some things don’t matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart–now, that matters. The whole problem with people is–“
“They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t,” I said, filling in her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.
“I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it. You know how hard that is, Lily? I love May, but it was still hard to choose Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”
This section of the book has stuck with me throughout the years because I would have a really hard time painting my house hot pink, no matter who wanted it that way. Here’s to hoping that if I’m ever faced with such a choice, I will remember the Caribbean Pink house and choose what matters. Though, I have to admit, I’d much rather choose what matters with, like, a pair of shoes or maybe a bedspread. Our house is fine as is.