Last week, in between flashes of lightning and thunder, the rain announced its arrival with pounding pellets hitting the brown sand, while sliding across the skin of the cacti. In the desert, every single time the water falls from the sky it sings of a debut. The moment I hear the sounds of water and its chorus tapping the windows, it fades away like it’s intruding on the sun’s territory. It is a common occurrence for parts of the city to be illuminated by the sun and other places to be covered in a torrential downpour. The swing of this pendulum results in a brilliant arc of blending colors extending from the bottom of the valley behind the mountains. I always pause and gaze at the sky and try to take a photograph of what is happening around me. It is the easiest way to slip and acknowledge the present.
Later in the day I flipped through my camera feed and I showed my husband the snapshot of what I captured. My focus gazed toward the rainbow and I smiled. I leaned into wonder, like a child discovering a firefly at night. The moment I tried to put my phone away, my husband asked, “Do you see what is under the arc?” The image shocked me. I didn’t know what to make of it. Underneath the rainbow, the clouds collaborated together to form an unexpected design – an image of a skull laying at the curve of the colors. I looked again.
Beauty staring at death.
Death admiring the splendor of beauty.
A matter of perspective, perhaps.
So much is colored by the tilt of our outlook. During the same week, this lesson arrived in another unlikely place. I watched my daughter play tennis during a competitive match. The father of her opponent sat down next to me and we exchanged small talk as we watched our respective son and daughter play. Most of the match we exchanged banter centered around the age of our children, how often they played tennis and traded information on various coaches. I looked ahead half-hearing the conversation and gazing at my daughter. Her long limbs moved as if she wasn’t responsible for what came next. It appeared the match wasn’t going in her favor. When the score card flipped, I glanced up and saw her score didn’t inch past 0.
We witnessed a few rallies and the father confessed he wished his wife could watch the match. When I asked why she couldn’t make it, he revealed his wife suffered from an aggressive form of breast cancer and the prognosis didn’t appear favorable. It proved too much to accompany their children to long tennis matches. As we talked further, he confessed his wife lit up when their kids brought home a trophy or medal from the tournament. “Tennis, he said, provides a good distraction. We stop thinking about her prognosis for a few minutes.” The heaviness of his words trickled into my veins. Again, perspective. In this second, whether my daughter lost this match seemed inconsequential. Moments before, I felt my own competitive edge surge and wondered why my daughter couldn’t muster enough points to secure at least one win. Now, though, I cheered for her opponent. The win for him meant joy for a mother I’ve never met.
Shifting my perspective pushed gratitude to the forefront. I contemplated the earlier image of the rainbow and the skull.
Beauty and death.
The fragility of all of it, so startling.
What an amazing photo, Rudri! And a thoughtful piece about your day.
Thanks, Windy. Appreciate your kind words.
Wow. There really is just a fine thread between what we think we know and the unseen…
Yes. It was helpful to see this reminder in the sky.
First, I have to say it tickled me to no end that you guys are finding shapes in the clouds. The beauty of your words in this piece touches my heart. Sometimes all it takes is stepping into another’s shoes for a moment and the way we think is forever changed. I’m sure this exchange will stay with you.
I anticipate the photo and the exchange will still resonate years from now. Yes, I love finding shapes in the clouds with my daughter. It makes the ride home from school interesting.
So powerful, thank you for sharing.
Thank you. xo
That is an amazing photo, Rudri, and an even more amazing story and lesson! It’s not always easy to choose the more evolved perspective but once we do, it truly makes a universe of difference in how we feel and respond to life. Thank you for your beautiful words, as always!
Perspective does alter so much. Sometimes I forget to shift my view, but these reminders certainly help. Thanks for your words. xo
Wow, Rudri, I appreciate this beautifully written post so much. I often sense a relationship between life and death that can frighten me at times, and at others bring my mindfulness and joy to the front. You gave a lovely example of how perspective can alter everything we experience and I love how open and sensitive you were. Thank you for your posts. They give me new perspectives within which to see.
Oh, Lisa. I apologize for my delay in responding to your kind comment. Yes, I am often thinking of the pendulum between sadness and happiness and it is disconcerting, but allows me to refocus on the present. Thank you so much for your lovely words.
Love the shift in perspective here, Rudri. So true and only takes a moment sometimes. And that photo… Fantastic shot. Interesting that you saw the rainbow, your husband the skull.
Agreed, Sarah. I think it is telling that my husband saw the skull, while I saw the rainbow. Perhaps its because I saw the picture with my daughter.
Completely gorgeous. Perspective is amazing like that.
So who won the match? I guess you can say I’m rooting for both.
Her opponent won the match, but it is a lesson I will never forget. xo
An amazing photo! Your feelings resonate mine, I would be cheering the opponent too….. To give the little bit of happiness to the mother whom you never met. It makes me think about how the little things are really the big things. Xo
Yes, Ayala, completely agree. Little things often make the most impact. xo
What an amazing photo and article. A change in perspective really can shift your whole view of a situation.
Thanks, Kathy. I thought the time was impeccable to have both the visual and perspective appear in close proximity. xo