Hawaii’s shifty rainbows taught me a lesson about wanting and waiting.
In 2003, I took a solo trip to Hawaii. I picked my trip largely so that I could get a close-up look at the state’s famous rainbows.
Rainbows had taken on a sacred meaning in my life. They represented peace, healing, and a spiritual connection. On my 8-hour flight to the Big Island on my 25th birthday, I never doubted the rainbows to come.
The Certainty and Elusiveness of Rainbows
To illustrate my confidence in these many sightings to come, here’s some background. Hawaii has more rainbows than most other places due to the ideal combination on the islands of rain, mist and sunlight. They have athletic teams named after rainbows.
They are a key part of the state’s travel industry, often displayed on postcards and keychains. They’re pretty much guaranteed on tourism sites. Rainbows seemed as integral to me in Hawaii’s poetry, songs and stories as the ocean and volcanoes. I imagined spectacular displays of color in the sky at every turn.
However, to my gradually increasing horror, by the last day of my week-long trip to the Rainbow State, I had seen no sign of my sacred symbols. Not a single rainbow in the sky. Nothing.
I stayed at a non-profit, educational eco-resort called Kalani, and had many other adventures. I discovered my first living reef hiding in local tide pools, watched wild dolphins from a black-sand beach, and learned about the power of lava to create earth.
But at the end of each of these incredible days, while sitting on a giant cliff overlooking the ocean, I would meditate and look for my rainbows. Each evening I would leave disappointed.
When I complained to the locals and other visitors, they would say things like, “You haven’t seen any rainbows? I just saw one on my walk over here.” I was increasingly frustrated and confused.
Mirage in Paradise
On one tour to visit local tide pools, I tried to manifest a faint rainbow in the clouds, like a mirage in the desert. My driver couldn’t see it (in fact he told me it was the wrong direction from the sun for a rainbow), and I knew I was just straining for colors. I…