Following the Rainbow

Every rainbow has its pot of gold. It lies at rainbow’s end, that mystical place to which science tells us it is impossible to actually get. Metaphorically, this may be true as well, but we’ll get to that.

Unless our early lives have been so tragic that we lose the ability, we all start out with dreams. Our dreams, they are our metaphoric pot of gold. That pot of gold holds everything that we really want, everything that we crave, everything that we believe that we need in order to find fulfillment in life. It is ours to discover, but in order to get to it, we must follow the rainbow.

We don’t follow the rainbow because of what does lie at the end. We have no way of knowing what’s really there. We follow the rainbow because of what might lie at the end. What we believe waits for us, what we envision, is far more important than what’s really there. What we go looking for isn’t tangible. It’s illusion. It’s hope.

And, if any of you were wondering where the leprechauns were going to fit into all of this, here they come. Your pot of gold isn’t yours alone. It’s yours to take, but it’s some leprechauns to keep. This complicates things. Cute and well-dressed as they may be, leprechauns are devilish little tricksters who have the cunning to hold you off of your treasure for a good long while.

Let’s say that the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow holds fifty gold-encrusted chocolates sitting atop of, and hiding, eternity. Or beauty. Or knowledge. Or the answer to life. Your dream. Your ultimate find. Whatever that may be.

Well, at first, you want what you want. You crave that beauty or knowledge or the answer, and so you begin following the rainbow. You needn’t worry about the leprechaun that guards your dream confronting you with weapons or sending goons to rough you up. You needn’t be wary of the kinds of traps that fall on your head or leave you hanging upside down by your ankle. If the traps looked dangerous, you would keep a look out and avoid them at all costs.

Instead, the leprechaun lays a small pot of gold, just gold, right along the path. There’s no trick in it. It’s enough money to be comfortable forever, guaranteed not to run out before the end of your life. But let’s say you don’t fear finding ways to make money if need be and it’s easy for you to pass that up.

So the leprechaun lays another pot, a larger pot of gold. Mixed in with enough money, maybe even more than enough to pay for all of the luxuries that you want, are weapons and armor and the keys to a fortified house. Security. Let’s say you pass that one up too, because you don’t fear scrambling for money and you know that life carries risk and you can face up to any monsters that come your way.

The next pot is bigger. It holds incredible wealth, absolute security,and a titanium scepter. It gives you authority. Maybe beauty too. Luxury, security and power.

And so it goes, on and on, that tricky leprechaun placing traps that look like prizes, until finally it is enough. Until finally it does distract you. Until your dream changes, or at least your goals do, because what you have, though it isn’t what you really wanted, is simply too comfortable to do without.

This is why people stop following rainbows. People may retain their dreams, but at some point, most people stop being dreamers. No one can follow their rainbow to the end while dragging the heavy loads of money or security or power behind them. If those things come naturally during the journey, if they don’t weigh you down, that’s one thing. That’s wonderful. I think we would all like that. But if you work at a job that you hate because the money is good or you are afraid of losing whatever income you do have… if you don’t travel because you fear not being able to communicate or getting lost in a foreign land… if you live in a house that you don’t really want to live in because you inherited it or got it on the cheap and you know you won’t find anywhere less expensive to live… if you take the promotion just because it’s a promotion… then you’ve been tricked.

Your leprechaun has gotten the better of you.

I know that it’s hard. Believe me, I do know. The greater in number and the larger the pots laid before you, the more difficult it is to keep passing them by. The more tempting it is to give up. Knowing that what lies at the end of the rainbow may not be all that you want it to be can make the entire journey feel like a fool’s errand. It may even seem irresponsible to keep walking by those things that are guaranteed.

It often makes the most sense to give up the quest for comfort.

That’s why most people do.

If you find contentment there, in the gold or the security or the power, if it’s enough for you and it feels good, that’s not a bad thing. For some people, riches or security is where their rainbow ends. But if you have all of those things that society tells you should be making you happy, and you feel restless or unfulfilled or as if you aren’t doing what you were put here to do – if you feel like me – then you simply have no choice but to keep going.

Even if it seems idiotic. Even if people think you are foolish or naïve.

And, I assure you, they will.

Following the rainbow doesn’t mean that you will never get disappointed or disheartened or depressed. I do. It doesn’t mean that you won’t sometimes want to give up and hold onto those things that you have acquired along the way, be it security or a relationship or material possessions. I fight that feeling too. The thing is, whenever I stop and linger over a pot of gold along the path and I really consider whether the money or the security or the power would be enough, I know that it won’t be.

How good is following the rainbow really? It’s hard to say. Some days, it could be the ugly. At times, it really does feel like I’m just trudging through the Swamps of Sadness or the Fire Swamp (pick your poison), watching my horse and only companion sink into the muck or waiting for my one true love to get whisked off to marry a prince with a horrible name and even worse hair just as soon as we get free of the lightning sand and rodents of unusual size.

But I don’t follow the rainbow because of what does lie at the end. I follow it because of what might lie at the end. I follow the rainbow because I’m too stupid to stop. But that’s a good thing… I think.

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  1. Hey Riley. I just read about following the rainbow. You managed to remind me to do something I didn’t realise I’d forgotten until now…to dream.
    I love what you write. And it inspires me to continue writing, to follow the rainbow, jump down the rabbit hole. Just to see what happens at the end.

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