When my children were small, they had color and paint by number sets, and they used felt tipped markers to color in designs printed on black felt. Not much creativity allowed, but the finished product was the reward for the painstaking fine-motor task of not letting the paints or colors blend when they touched.
Many years ago when my friend Rose was dying of cancer at age 52, I sat with her in her kitchen and we colored with crayons in individual coloring books. We were focused, together, but lost in our own thoughts, sometimes reminiscing aloud about how our children used to color when they were small. How the kindergarten teacher wrote "Needs Improvement" on their report cards when they colored out of the lines.
It was a time when we could just BE, to fill the long hours. We didn't need words to express what was on our minds. We didn't focus on the chemo and radiation, the pain and suffering. We sat, happily, together, lost in our individual works.
All the while, we were working. Working to simultaneously hold on and let go.
These days coloring has had a resurgence. It is a way for adults to relax, get lost in thought, unwind, and release their creativity. Granted, the patterns are fine-detailed and more complicated. This morning the news featured a coloring group where women gather for fun and friendship.
Seems like a wholesome and fun activity. When is the last time you colored?
Note to parents and grandparents of young children: they need lots of space to sprawl because they do not have well developed fine motor control, and staying in the lines is not necessary, so ditch the coloring books for preschoolers and allow them to DRAW not just color.