That’s peculiar when you realize I made a living traveling the country, delivering speeches, workshops, and presentations. One might think I’d be used to travel; it would be second nature.
So, let me clarify.
I’m not “nervous” in the sense that I’m afraid the plane will fall from the sky. I mean, sure, turbulence gives me a bit of the willies, but, overall, I feel safe in the air. I’m more anxious about the logistics. For example, will the flight be canceled and I’ll be stuck? Will I be re-directed due to fog? If I’m stuck in the airport, where will I sleep? (In fairness to me, these all happened and I ended up missing engagements.)
To assuage those dreads, I inspect weather reports of the departing and arriving airports days in advance, tracing where my plane will be coming from so I can monitor its weather – as well as the airport before that, and sometimes even the one prior. I set up numerous phone alarms and am familiar with every flight-tracking app on this side of the stratosphere. Not surprisingly, I arrive at the airport three days early (slight exaggeration) and prefer long layovers to avoid missed connections when flights are inevitably delayed.
None of this helps guarantee the trip will go as expected, and, to be honest, I’m not sure it doesn’t feed my anxiety, but, what can I say? It’s my thing.
I feel more in control when driving, but up here on the rugged Northcoast of California, that’s no guarantee either. We have skinny, twisty, mountain roads so inclement weather, accidents, and all manner of fallen objects close the main thoroughfares more often than I like.
With that as backstory, my wife and I were heading to a cabin in the mountains amid a predicted “Bomb Cyclone” that was set to soak Northern California the day we were planning to leave. (Cue nervousness and me checking weather apps.)
The good news was – as is usually the case – worrying was wasted energy. The sun broke through the clouds as we were leaving, and it was going to be an easy drive. Better yet, one of the most brilliant rainbows ever appeared as we pulled from the curb. Everyone likes rainbows. I mean, how can you not? From the time of Noah, the colorful arc that spans the firmament signifies hope, peace, and beauty. For my family, rainbows also signify a message from our departed cat, Tiger, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge last year.
What made this even more affecting was that the kaleidoscopic arc remained to our west for the first hour of our drive. Each time we took a curve, there it was; peering over the mountaintops, shining through the trees, hovering always to our side; watching and protecting us.
Here’s the amazing part. As we rounded a bend, the end of the rainbow was immediately to our left, culminating a few dozen feet off the road. (No, there wasn’t a pot of gold.) We only viewed it for an instant as the highway turned again, but the rainbow was enormous; its colors brighter and more vibrant than anything I’ve witnessed in my almost-seventy years; almost blinding. Upon witnessing the breadth, scope, and beauty of the rainbow, both my wife and I let out a simultaneous gasp. If we both hadn’t seen it together, at the same time, I’d be convinced it was my imagination.
But it wasn’t.
We rounded another turn, hoping to get a second glance; maybe even a photo to prove what we saw. Yet, it was gone, leaving only blue sky once again.
You might – or might not – agree with my beliefs about rainbows; that’s okay. I’m not sure I do. After all, rainbows are caused by sunlight and atmospheric conditions and are illusions. I was always taught that – even aside from the story of little people and the pot of gold – there was no terminus to rainbows. Yet, there it was. And, you might – or might not – think I’m delusional and making this all up. (I’m not.)
Whether you believe me and whether you think rainbows are messages from the departed is not the point of this story. That colorful, banded, column of light inspired us and filled us to overflowing with amazement, astonishment, and awe. The sense of reverence and wonder that we experienced was better than the supposed riches for whoever finds the end of a rainbow.
I hope it’s an experience I get to have again. I hope it’s an experience you get to have. But, more than anything, it served as a reminder, that despite it all, we live on a scenic, amazing, miraculous spinning blue globe that brings to us everything we need. It takes care of us, body, mind, and soul. Everything we have. Everything we have ever made. Everything there is birthed from a generous Mother Earth who we must treat with love and respect even if we don’t have a pot of gold.
For these holidays, I wish for you beauty, health, happiness, peace, and rainbows.