Have you seen any rainbows lately?
In these dark and worrying times the growing proliferation of rainbows displayed on windows, chalked on pavements and garden paths, or woven into fences bring a message of hope. Most have been created by those children who are now trying to make sense of the growing insular world that they find themselves in. Other examples, are the work of adults who similarly are at a loss to comprehend what is happening and how any of us are supposed to behave at the moment.
I suppose these rainbows are tangible – an identifiable positive image and therein lies their hope. For those readers unfamiliar with this movement, pictures of rainbows have started appearing in neighbourhoods in the UK so that the children taking their permitted exercise can look out for them, count them, and also see that others are doing the same as they are. Examples I have seen have started to be customised to include greetings or messages of gratitude to the postman, carers and the NHS. They are a slowly spreading expression of community.
In a recent book I wrote a chapter called ‘I can sing a rainbow’ where I examined my coloured memories. Have you ever played that game where you have to say what immediately comes to mind as you are given a colour name? I started playing that really as I wrote my chapter and found each colour sparked off my memories so that I found I could recall a whole myriad of experiences, of places, people and events. Perhaps this is why the rainbow phenomena resonated with me? It brought me back to writing that chapter and thinking of all those coloured memories –
“Times of happiness and of people that mattered to me, who were significant in my life.”
There is that quote often seen on Pinterest boards and gifts bought to uplift the recipient. I will paraphrase it here as
“No rain, no rainbows.”
At the moment, we are all under a whole lot of cloud so it is little wonder that we are searching for rainbows. Each rainbow we find along the way of a permitted daily exercise signals the promise to the end of our collective confinement. It recognises the kindnesses being shown by neighbours, friends, families and complete strangers. When you sift through the scary news on social media, there are examples you can find of such kindnesses. A meal or treat being dropped off at the door of a vulnerable or elderly person. A young lad giving the last bag of pasta that he had taken off the shelf to a stranger in the shop who looked like they needed it more. That friend or relative that hasn’t been in touch for ages, picking up the phone or sending a text message just to see if you are okay.
This strange limbo time has got me thinking about a lot of things – sometimes in the middle of the night, a practice I am trying to stop as I don’t want to add insomnia to the list of items to be concerned about. However, I wanted to focus on the positive in all of this. When you can’t get out to find these rainbows scattered through your neighbourhood, you can turn your attention to what is immediately around you. There are four adults in our house, three of whom have one level or another of identified vulnerability. One is trying to work from home and concentrate upon all that entails, whilst the household, including an attention-seeking dog, goes on around him. It is safe to say that tensions are forming, moods are rising and falling and being able to concentrate on anything is proving difficult as time goes on.
Yet, I am recognising the rainbows amongst these clouds. We are engaging in conversation when, given our previous freedoms, some of us would have been off doing our own things. We are planning, cooking and sharing family meals together – much less of the everyone doing their own thing, eating at different times, passing like ships around the metaphorical harbour of the dining table. None of us are entirely sure of the right measures to take but we are trying to look out for each other, balancing feeling informed by the news and social media posts with getting overwhelmed by them all. We are trying new things – planting vegetable seeds in makeshift pots on the window sill, cooking some items from scratch that we haven’t done before, developing our tech skills because there isn’t someone else to rely on to pop in and do it for us. I am sure there will be much more. I am even being initiated into the world of Marvel and finally getting around to watching the films. That has resulted in another rainbow – family film time is becoming another regular feature. For those who know me, I have a lot of classic film titles to catch up on which is strange for someone married to film industry man!
Yes, there is a lot that is scary – sometimes so much so that to haul yourself out of bed in the morning is a real achievement. I am not trying to paint a rose-tinted picture of life on this limbo lockdown and I am sure it is going to prove more testing the longer that it goes on. But if we keep looking down and focusing on all that is grey and gloomy, the clouds that can easily fill our time, then we miss out on the moments that matter. We don’t recognise the rainbows. I have recently managed to publish a poetry chapbook and I have used the rainbow analogy for one particular poem which I include below.
Remember all those moments that you are missing? I wonder what colours they are - get your paintbrush ready, for there will be lots more to come on the other side of this. Be ready to paint a masterpiece.
Red became my confidence, my shield to face the world,
Stepping out in red shoes and lipstick to reassure,
Unleashing an inner bounce to squash the voice of doubt,
Grabbing that attitude along with my outfit to go out.
Orange is my autumn, my smouldering glow,
Taking comfort in what I have and I know I can do,
The warmth from a sunset, the embers from the coal,
The satsuma sweetness from a fresh fruit bowl.
Yellow is bright, it is light touching my soul just when I need it,
The tenacious dandelion clinging on defiantly,
It is loud, a moment of allowing myself to be proud,
Not being afraid to stand out from the crowd.
Green is refreshing, signalling the hope of warmer times,
The new shoots of spring, a lawn carpet cushioning my toes,
The get set go, fresh salads and cool lime,
Raising a long stemmed glass in a moment of time.
Blue is my calm, my reflection when I just need some space,
Breathing slowly to look at the sky and relax,
Floating away in a mermaid lagoon,
Wishing I could return to that cool pool soon.
Indigo and violet are my conjuring of a nostalgic haze,
‘Purple Rain’ reminiscing, a Cadbury chocolate wrap,
The swirling tie-dye, an amethyst ring,
Lavender and heather on scented air sing.
I’m recognising rainbows amongst my every day,
Finding comfort in the shine that a fleeting moment brings,
For the darkest storms will break and then come to an end,
And amongst the shadows waiting are the tools to heal and mend.