Step into my office.
Or, better yet, step into our Springsteen room.
Either way, you’ll immerse yourself in a sea of orange. It’s a strong citrus sort of color that screams, “LOOK AT ME!” but it’s lack of neon flare whispers, “i promise i won’t bite.”
My consistent color palate at work and at home is obnoxious to some; applauded by others.
Many are perplexed by this vibrant autumn hue that I – a relatively reserved and mild-mannered man – purposely selected for the two rooms in which I spend a great deal of my waking hours.
Orange is the color for Multiple Sclerosis, and there is a push for everything orange as the nation celebrates March 11-17 as National MS Awareness Week.
So this morning as I got ready for work, I donned a brand new bright orange tie to accent my sky blue shirt. And I took into my Central Michigan University office two trays of orange bread – one for people upstairs and one for people downstairs – to encourage others to celebrate this annual observance with Jennifer and me.
To the casual observer, my office and Springsteen room are orange because it’s the color of MS, right?
Uh … kind of.
You see, orange also is the color for my beloved alma mater, Wartburg College. In fact, “Be Orange” the big marketing campaign behind the college that is named after the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany. This is where, according to wartburg.edu, “Martin Luther found refuge during the Reformation and translated the New Testament into the language of the people.”
So, my office and Springteen room are painted this secondary shade because I wanted to “Be Orange,” right?
Mmmmm … perhaps.
Truth be told, I chose the orange before it ever was the official MS color, and even longer before the Wartburg marketing gurus defined it as a college-level state of existence. Orange was, and is, the perfect match for all my Springsteen artwork.
But hang on! Here’s where it all started to make perfect sense to me, and I saw a total correlation between MS, Wartburg College and being orange:
This morning as wrote a letter to my colleagues letting them know about MS Awareness Week and the orange bread, I honestly was going to sign the message, “Be Orange.” I paused, because I can’t say that. It’s SO Wartburg. Or could I?
Curious, I went to the Wartburg website, and this is what it says:
“What does it mean to ‘be orange’ at Wartburg? ‘Be Orange’ isn’t just a slogan. It’s an attitude, a mantra – a way of life. It’s the…
• energy that comes from being independent and making your own unique choices.
• warmth in the genuine smiles you see around campus.
• inner glow you feel when you get involved in service to others.
• spark of intellectual curiosity that ignites when you find your true calling.
• fire that drives you to pursue your own passions.
Wartburg students want to stand out and put their gifts to good use, and they want to support others doing the same. They are involved, busy and multi-talented. Wartburg students know how to balance school, activities and social life. They work hard, have fun, manage their time …”
As a 1995 Wartburg College alumnus, “Be Orange” indeed is SO Wartburg. But as a person diagnosed with MS in 2000, “Be Orange,” also is SO my MS.
Think about it. Reread the definition above from the perspective of a person living and rising above MS. Finding strength to move forward. Helping yourself. Encouraging people dealing with the same disease as you. Volunteering with others to reach collective goals. Being your own best advocate.
So yes, whatever way you slice it, my office and Springsteen room are orange because of my Multiple Sclerosis, Wartburg College and memorabilia of The Boss.
And maybe it’s not so much that I look to “Be Orange” as it is that I strive to “Be Bold” in dealing with this disease. Yes, orange is quite bold, agree?
How are you being bold in your life with MS?