I hadn’t either, until this week. Perhaps you’ve seen his viral video, “Double Rainbow” in which he is overcome with awe and wonder at the sight of a double rainbow.
In this video, you can hear his voice, giddy with the sheer joy of this spectacular event in nature. At one point he sounds almost orgasmic, at another he sounds like he is weeping. “What does it mean?” He asks.
Back in 2010, Jimmy Kimmel got ahold of the video and reposted it, resulting in a viral response with 50 million views. He was one of YouTube’s earliest viral sensations. The video was even turned into a catchy autotune spoof.
But why was it so popular? Well, it was hilarious, and curious. How could you not giggle at (or with) this grown man who is absolutely consumed with joy at the sight of water crystallizing in the sky?
Most people probably assumed he was on drugs,or compromised in some way. He wasn’t. (As a plant medicine advocate and coach, it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference to me. Joy is joy, wonder is wonder. Still, I think it matters some. There is a great deal of judgement and stigma around the use of plant medicines, but this message is not about that.)
When I first saw the video, I laughed along with the rest of the world. All the while, I was searching every meditation technique, supplement, and spiritual practice trying to access joy. The irony!
This week, when I learned that Paul “Bear” Vasquez, died of COVID-19, I saw this video in a different light. I must have re-watched it 5 or 6 times, laughing at first and even shedding a few tears. It occurred to me that, at least in the moment he filmed that video, Paul “Bear” Vasquez completely embodied, the secret to life.
Pure, unbridled, giddy joy.
Isn’t that what we all really want? To be consumed by love and joy. How do we miss it? Beauty is everywhere. Are we so busy with our search for joy that we ultimately miss it?
That said, the rainbow was only made possible by dark heavy clouds and rain. So much rain. Like the rainbow, made possible by heavy clouds, we rarely arrive at joy without engaging, deeply and authentically with sorrow, anger and heavy emotions we so often try to avoid.
We are human, and we are not just joy, we are all the things. True joy is not gained through relentless affirmations, endless questioning nor relentless goal setting. It is not in in a spreadsheet or the latest gadget. True joy is gained through beginner’s mind, surrender, noticing what we often miss.
Freedom is not finding joy, but being joy along with all of the other things we can be and feel. Nature is our teacher.
So, What does it mean?
When interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel after the explosive response to the video, Vasquez, told Kimmel “I think it means, spirit is talking to me.”
He went on to address the various responses to his video, many people were touched, but many were negative and dismissive.
He said simply, “I think (the video) is like a mirror”.
A mirror for what? Kimmel asked him.
For themselves. Vasquez responded.
Profound wisdom from a simple guy. In that moment Bear Vasquez became one of my heroes.
People respond to the external world with what is inside of them. How often do we do this? We project what is inside of us onto others in the form of judgement or dismissal.
Regardless, the joy of Bear Vasquez sent ripples of laughter through the internet and I am truly grateful.
This time in the world is beyond difficult. There is nothing to explain away the tragedy, death, confusion and loss. But there are undeniable blessings, double rainbows, blue skies over polluted places, moments of laughter and connection with family, and reimagining of careers and values.
And then there is the inexplicable grace. The Double Rainbow video and it’s creator have been on my mind all week and then today our family experienced a tragic loss.
In our Colorado sky thunderstorms as we shed tears and tried to make sense of things,the only thing I could really accomplish was gardening. So, as I stepped outside to tend to my new seedlings I saw – an actual double rainbow?
What?! All the way across the sky! How?! Some would call this a Godwink, others a mere coincidence, Jung would have deemed it a clear example of synchronicity.
If this spring has caused you to re-examine your life, your priorities, your career, book a session. Let’s talk. If you find you are more serious than you’ve ever been about making a shift, I would be honored to open up the space of transformation and walk with you. How have you been? I’d love to hear from you.
So hear is a little “mixtape” I made for you, featuring the Double Rainbow song and a handfull of other songs that give me “the feels”.