It had been raining for a week straight. Streets had become shallow rivers and plants were drowning in excess water. A dusty shade of gray had colored the sky until yesterday and then the clouds decided to break. I was sitting at my desk trying to keep my mind off the dismal weather outside. A pen drawing of a nude woman sat unfinished on my desk for hours because I was having difficulty staying interested in it. I had the radio on and repeatedly looked up from the drawing and stared out the window. I watched the slight drizzle and my aching eyes took delight in the birds sliding across the wet sky. Then it happened. The sun began cracking through the gray colored sky and off to my right I noticed something that I was not used to seeing through my window. What was taking shape right before my tired eyes was the birth of the most incandescent rainbow I had ever seen.
The colors of the rainbow began to form gradually and then grew into bright vibrating hues of red, yellow, blue, green and violet. I sat mesmerized at my desk watching this creation of nature unfold in front of me. For a moment I was reminded of the rainbow flag that was used in the German peasants war in the 16th century as a sign of a new era, of hope and change. So much awe overcame me that I had to go outside and watch the birth of this rainbow without the obstruction of a window. I noticed other residents of my neighborhood coming outside their homes and observing the same thing that was mesmerizing me. Bicyclists, dog walkers and joggers all stopped to watch the uncanny sight. The luminous rainbow covered the entire length of the city in which I live and owned the sky like a majestic doorway into some unknown place.
After ten minutes or so of staring at the rainbow, I slowly lost interest and decided to come back inside and finish my nude drawing. Even though what I should have been doing was spending my day looking for a job, I am a master procrastinator who will find the most obscure ways to distract myself from what really needs to get done. As I worked on the women’s hips the idea that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, popped into my mind. As a child my mother, my grandmother, a baby sitter and several of my teachers had often told me this but as I grew older other adults told me this idea was just a myth or a superstition. I believed these adults without ever really checking for myself to see if they were right or wrong. Now I was in a different predicament. I was a thirty-eight-year-old man, a victim of the great recession who was out of work and unable to pay next months rent if I did not find some money fast. When the thought occurred to me that I should go check and see if there really was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow– I said to myself “what the hell- I got nothing to lose.”
I am an average, lower middle-class man. I am a dull man with very few friends. A man who would rather not work and be left alone so I can read books, draw and roam around town. When I found myself putting on warm clothes to go on a long journey in the cold and emptying out my backpack to take with me (just in case I did find gold) the thought did occur to me that maybe I had lost my mind. “Maybe I already lost my sanity months ago and this is the real reason why I am broke and having a hard time finding a job?” I thought to myself. I tried not to listen to this judgmental voice of mine and just focused my attention on what I remember my grandmother saying to me many years ago when she showed me my first rainbow. “The end of the rainbow is further way than you think, but if you keep on walking really far you will be rewarded by finding the most beautiful pot of gold right where all those brilliant colors touch the ground,” she said to me.
It must have been below fifty degrees outside when I began my “end of the rainbow” search. I threw away the naked drawing I had been working on and fed the cat before I left. I had an empty backpack on my back, thick gloves on my hands, a wool hat covering my ears and the anticipation of an excited child inside my rapidly beating heart. As I walked I imagined to myself what my life could really be like if I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I would be able to not only pay my rent next month but also never again have to spend sleepless nights terrified by what I was going to do if I ran out of money. I would not have to eat beans out of a can anymore or tell my wife that I cannot afford to meet her for lunch or dinner. No more frozen food. No more ripped socks and old underwear. No more jobs and bosses I cannot stand. No more suffocating anxiety every time I spend more than a dollar. If there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, I told myself, I will be free.
These thoughts caused me to walk faster. I could feel anticipation in my feet. As I walked I noticed more people stopped in the streets, watching the rainbow in a state of awe. I however did not bother to look up. I had both my eyes set on one place, and one place only- where the colors of the rainbow touched the ground. My grandmother was not wrong when she told me that I would have to walk really far. The closer I thought I was getting to the end of the rainbow the further away that it seemed to be. When I finally felt as if I had reached the end- the rainbow moved a little further from me. After an hour or so of walking frantically I was exhausted but determined not to give up. The thought did not occur to me that the end of the rainbow could be an optical illusion, like a pool of water in the middle of a hot desert. Had that thought come into my mind- I may have given up.
One belief that I have never let go of is that all perseverance is rewarded in the end. It must be! With this belief buried deep in my heart I kept on walking towards the end of the rainbow no matter how many times it seemed to change directions. I walked off road and went through horse stables, ravines, cornfields and forest areas with thick overgrown shrubbery. I felt like a warrior on the war path when in reality I was just a man who really needed money.
As I walked out from a claustrophobic cornfield that threatened to burry me alive, I finally came upon the end of the rainbow. There it was before me touching down in the middle of a dirt field in the middle of nowhere. All around was nothing but miles and miles of wide-open farmland. The end of the rainbow was not more than half a mile away from me and without a moments hesitation I began to run across the field with the slow speed and tight muscles of someone who has not exercised in months. I was willing to die for what could be at the end of that rainbow. I felt terribly out of breath as I ran but I forced myself to run faster because I was afraid that the end of the rainbow would get away. But all my determination paid off, because right when I could run no more I stood directly in front of the radiant colors of refracted light. I had made it to the place where “the brilliant colors touch the ground.” But my grandmother failed to tell me about what would happen next.
It was not until I was finally able to catch my breath that I was able to see what was in front of me. A young woman, no older then twenty-six or twenty seven, was rainbow bathing in the nude in the center of the rainbow. It took me a moment to see whether or not what I was seeing was real or just the result of my exhausted mind. Sure enough, when she sat up and looked at me with a bright smile I could see that what I was seeing was not an illusion. She was lying on a red towel that had the word Hawaii all over it. She watched me as I watched her until I finally got the courage to say, “excuse me. Ah….I do not mean to bother you…. but did you by chance…. find a pot of gold in there?” I knew that what I was saying must have sounded ridiculous, a little insane but she did not laugh or seem in the slightest bit surprised by my question. She just stood up and said to me “why don’t you get undressed and come in here and see for yourself.”
I felt my throat tighten up. I was shocked. The young woman was too beautiful, so perfect in every way that I felt like something had to be wrong. Things like this just do not happen to me. I was much older than her and could not understand why she would want to see me naked. I was slightly embarrassed but again I reminded myself that I had nothing to lose. The young lady stood there in all her nudity, patiently waiting for me to make up my confused mind. I was still thinking about the pot of gold. I so badly wanted the money. Maybe it is hidden someplace in there, maybe she is hiding it, I thought to myself. So like any desperate person would do- I said what the hell, got undressed and walked into a rainbow. She reached out her hand for me and I walked in just as naked as the day I was born- except for my wedding ring and the backpack in my hand (just in case I was going to find the pot of gold).
I remember reading someplace that the ultraviolet light put off by rainbows was beneficial for skin cells and blood. The light was filled with vitamins D, K, E, C and numerous antioxidants. I was comforted by the thoughts of these health benefits (since I have been struggling with some health challenges) as the young woman held my hand and escorted me towards her Hawaii towel. One of the only things she said to me during our time together was “there is no need to talk. Just feel and allow yourself to let go.” When we sat down side by side on the towel I tried not to stare at her naked body. I could not tell what mesmerized me more- being besides an exquisite naked young lady or being inside a rainbow. I also could not tell if it was the warm rays of a rainbow heating up my body or if it was my nervousness that was making me warm. The young woman started to rub my back with the palm of her warm hand and then whispered into my ear “lay back, let go and feel.” It was at this moment that the thought- maybe she is an angel, ran through my mind.
I followed her directions since I was in no condition to argue. I was a little concerned about getting an erection but I took my mind of off any sexual thoughts by visualizing a pound of ground beef. She lay down besides me- so close that I could feel her skin breathing. Together we lied there, not saying anything to one another, just feeling the warmth of the rainbow. Slowly I felt my eyes close and my heart slow. For the first time in months I felt my mind become still and my body felt at ease. I was hovering someplace between bliss and relaxation, feeling the individual colors and mist of the rainbow nurturing my skin. I was not cold and there were no thoughts about needing money frantically swimming around in my mind. I could swear the sun was shinning and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. I did not worry about anything. For the first time in months- I did not think about how I was going to find a job or what I was going to do. Everything seemed to become silent except the exquisite sounds of the vibrating rainbow. The last thing I remember saying was this is fantastic before I finally let go.
When I opened my eyes I was lying naked in the middle of dirt field. I did not know if an hour or days had passed. Cold rain was falling on my body and there was no longer even an inch of sun in the sky. I looked around and all I could see was miles and miles of farmland. Besides me was my empty backpack and a few feet from me were all of my clothes neatly folded and placed in a pile. The young girl was gone and so was the rainbow. I was shivering from the cold when I got up to put on my wet pants, shirt, sweater, and shoes. I looked around to see if anyone else had witnessed what had just happened. No one. I put on my wool hat, gloves and backpack and started walking out of the dirt field. I did not feel sad, frustrated or confused. In fact I did not feel any negative emotion at all. I simply felt each step I took and listened to the raindrops as they fell all around me with a deep sense of satisfaction. When I finally made it back to the road I turned around and looked at the field that I had been lying naked in. It was at that point that I thought to myself, so that is what they mean by a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I smiled, took a deep breath and began my long journey home.