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Colors Out of Reach

Well, I see the end of the rainbow
But what more is a rainbow
Than colors out of reach?
— The Avett Brothers, Swept Away

There’s a fine line between being satisfied with what you’ve got and yearning for what you haven’t got. I follow, and thus am constantly teased by, Aurora Borealis updates. I happen to live in a place with a very slight chance of seeing the Northern Lights, but sure, I’m saying there’s a chance. The hardy souls who stay up all night on mountain tops for the ten minutes with the Aurora post their photos immediately, making me grumble when I rise early the next morning and see what I’ve missed. But I know that that show wasn’t meant for me.

We are in our moment, in our place, with or without the things we yearn for. There’s nothing to do about that which we’ve missed out on. For the things we seek, we must either go to them or let them fly away unencumbered by our attempt to grasp them.

When you go to a place you’ve dreamed of going to, be it a tropical paradise or Paris or (just maybe) Iceland for volcanos and waterfalls and the dance of the Northern Lights, you close the book on dreaming and capture its memory, like a flower folded into a book. The thing is, memories are rainbows out of reach too. But with memories, bits of the color embed themselves in us that live on through us. You can see it in your eyes when you look at yourself in the mirror, and others see it in you too. Each encounter brings more color to our lives.

Ultimately we can’t have it all, and we ought to focus on the things that are most important to us. Yet there’s something to be said for a recurring dream of light and color dancing in the sky. It will always remain just out of reach, yet so very close to our heart.

So what do we chase, and what do we let fly away? Don’t we already know? For our answer appears when we stop chasing every rainbow and really think about what’s important now.

Edinburgh Rainbow

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