My friend, Lily, said the other day that I am too hard on myself. She said, "Melody, life is not black and white. Life is 'in-between.'" That statement really sent me off into thought. Aren't so many of us our own worst critics? By the same token, don't so many of us know better when it comes to doing the right thing?

Not so simple, I am afraid. At fifty-one, I figured, I should know more. I should be more objective. I should have garnered more wisdom after all these years of living, experiencing, raising children, rediscovering my roots as a Jew, studying Torah more often, living through surgeries and on and on and on. I should know more.

I should have garnered more wisdom after all these yearsAs a matter of fact, if you would have asked me a couple of years ago what else is there for me to absorb, what more can I see, I may very well have answered the usual, "been there, seen that, got holes in that T-shirt."

Imagine my surprise as to the changes and reactions over the past two years. A double-lung transplant, meeting new friends, learning Hebrew, losing friends, remembering loved ones who have come and gone and learning to survive that deep, dark pain of loss.

On the other hand, I started playing piano again. I also learned how to make jewelry. While waiting for my new lungs, a girl has to have a hobby. And a girl has a lot of time to think. Perhaps too much time. Hence my friend's inferred "Life isn't so black and white" statement.

You've heard it before, too. I've had it with this or that, with her or him. I don't need this anymore. I have cried enough. Leave me alone. Or, conversely, how did I ever make it this far without you? I never realized how important friends are. Especially, "Thank you, Rabbi. Thank you again."

So, what has changed in these past couple of years or months that suddenly compels me to write so differently?

I started painting. I used to sketch in black-and-white with charcoal or pen and ink. Then one day, after my transplant, when I was joyfully breathing and walking through an art store, I came upon a beginners set of acrylic paints and canvases.

I was drawn to those things like a child in a candy store. Oh my. A table easel. Books on how to paint. Brushes. But, oh dear, I had been so afraid of "color." There are so many. Too many to choose from. Yet, I wanted to try this. And I was afraid.

Afraid? I had a double-lung transplant seven months ago and here I am, shrinking away from a box of paints. Not so normal. This is nuts, I thought. There I went again… no logical, forgiving understanding of how I was feeling. Just me, as usual, passing judgment on myself.

Long story longer. I bought the paints, the brushes, a book, some canvases, and the table easel, went home and cleared off the dining room table and set everything up. There it sat for about two weeks. I walked by it. I peered at it. I arranged it. I examined it. I flipped through the books. But paint? Nope.

I called my daughter, Amanda, who, by the way, paints very well and is a fearless kind of young woman. I explained my predicament.

"What if I make a mistake?"

"Mom, it's paint. It's acrylic paint. If you make a mistake you can paint over it."

Wow. A "do-over." How many chances do we get for do-over's?

Could there be a more obvious metaphor for life, I wondered?So, I picked an example from the book. I quietly and carefully chose the colors they said to pick out, followed the steps, and at some point, I "let go"… and started to paint. I started to live my life in color. I began to see that where the light hits an object, the colors are lighter. Where objects are obscured, they are darker. And light and dark have many tones and hues.

Hmm. Could there be a more obvious metaphor for life, I wondered?

The best thing was when I put this into practice and really started painting. First I started to look at nature differently. You know, trees, the sky, flowers, birds. Then I started to look at human nature differently. You know, fear, anger, lover, compassion, strength, faith, or, may I say, "Let go and let G‑d."

Matters of light and depth. Yes, there were more lessons to be learned on the canvas.

I had been living my life in black-and-white and shades of gray with only every once in awhile letting the color in. I was scared of color. Color represented life and joy and happiness, and frankly, I had seen many of these elements taken away from me. I had perceived these losses from a very black and white point of view.

After studying and discussing Torah with my teacher and with friends, by reading articles here, I found out that we never really lose anything forever. We still see embers of a fire that once burnt brightly. We can see the left-over raindrops on our window panes. And all of a sudden there is a rainbow.

A rainbow full of colors reflected through G‑d's prism of a promise that we are worthy and meant to live our lives by lighting the way for others, and for ourselves. And we need not struggle in the dark or be blinded by too much light.

Yes, there are "in-betweens" and these are the observations and experiences of living your life out loud – in brilliant colors for joyous occasions, and subdued tones for quieter moments.

We may delve deep into our hearts and find so much more than we thought. We may fear to go that deep because it may be too dark. I think we simply need to take some crayons or paints, and find the child within us who drew pictures on sidewalks to show us the path of an open heart.

Matters of light and depth. Stay close to your heart. Stay close to G‑d. And watch all the colors come alive, again. Believe in rainbows.