This post doesn’t have a single picture in it. Nothing beautifully staged to satisfy the need for eye candy, no pithy social commentary, no delightful vignette, nothing to offer immediate gratification so that you maybe will stay a while to read the story I am about to tell. That’s how it should be, really, for this, because it was trying to capture the moment that I missed it, catching only a brief flicker in the corner of my eye as I was looking at my phone hoping it would have enough power to share this moment publicly.
Two or so weeks ago, my parents came to us for a visit. We haven’t seen my dad for almost a year, and it was a few days of glorious family visiting, and just being together. We didn’t do anything special, we just enjoyed the presence of special people. My mom and I have a tradition, though, where we go on a whirlwind shopping trip to all the neat little shops, enjoying the hunt for quirky things and cramming in as much time as we can together before they leave.
On this last day, the weather was of a sort I’ve never seen here in the lower Adirondacks: warm rain over snow, with thunder and sunshine breaking through. As we were making our way back home, the clouds cleared enough for the setting sun to set, casting a deep, dark peachy orange glow across all the fog and clouds, a color I have never seen before, and which was a physical experience because it was thick in the air around us, catching the haze. Not far from home, as we drove up and over the corn fields, we looked to the right and saw before us the most amazing double rainbow I’ve ever seen. If the orange of the sky was dulled and grayed from the steely clouds heavy with storms, this rainbow was its antithesis: the colors vibrated and glowed so bright it was as if they hummed, like your ears could hear the light waves, and your eyes tingled with the light particles striking them. Like any normal person, I screeched and pulled the car over onto the frozen field to stare in wonder, sitting next to my mom.
And this is when I took leave of my senses, literally. I turned my eyes to my phone, knowing it was dead, trying to power it on so I could take a photo for Instagram. Here’s the most amazing natural beauty I’ve seen in years, and I am futzing around with my phone, to try and use it to do what, exactly? Prove something? Like this rainbow is a message about how awesome life is, my life is?
And then I think the Universe had enough, as if it was pissed at me for paying only a half-assed attention, because in the middle of this double rainbow, with the ominous clouds and fantastical sky over a winter field, a bolt of lightning right through the middle of the rainbow.
And I missed it.
I could have been staring at the rainbow instead of my phone. I could have been enjoying the presence with my mom at my side. And I did, but I was only partially there, because my need to fill up my feeds with awesome somehow seemed more important than my need to delight in the world I live in while it is before me. It is a moment I haven’t finished thinking about yet, for the lesson is a deep and painful one when the Universe slaps you upside the head and bellow “ATTEND!”