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GOLDEN CITY CYNIC: Contemplating double rainbows on Canada Day

In case you missed it, this past Saturday, at around dinnertime the skies opened up briefly and we were treated to a spectacular double rainbow arching over town. It was certainly a sight to behold, and I noticed a cool detail about the pair: the fainter one was a mirror image of the brighter one. I have no idea what the scientific explanation is behind that, but it was fascinating to me.

I had never seen a double rainbow like that that I can remember, and as I watched it and photographed it for posterity, I was filled with a sense of gratitude that I was in the right place at the right time to witness a natural occurrence like this one. The moment was only marred by the fact that that corny Kermit the Frog song about rainbows suddenly started playing in my mind.

After a lot of thought and a lot of note-taking and brainstorming, it was difficult for me to thematically link this rare rainbow experience with Canada Day. I’m certainly not going to indulge in the typical cliches around the symbolism rainbows have in our Canadian culture, nor am I going to expand upon the metaphor of the pot of gold at the end of said rainbows. But what I’d like to go back to is that feeling of gratitude I had while witnessing those rainbows the other night. Sometimes nature comes along and makes me grateful for certain things in my life, and sometimes holidays do that for me, too.

I’m grateful to live in a country with the unparalleled natural beauty we have here from coast to coast. I’m grateful for our large, unpopulated wilderness spaces and the amazing wildlife they support. I’m grateful to live in a country where there is a lot of fresh water and a lot of fabulous water features. I’m grateful for our vast array of different landscapes, many of which I’ve had the opportunity to see in my travels.

I’m grateful I have the freedom to travel throughout this country unhindered by military checkpoints and threats of terrorism, and I’m grateful for the many other personal freedoms I enjoy, like freedom to dress as I wish, freedom to say and write what I want, and the freedom of self-determination. I’m grateful I don’t have a religion forced upon me or a marriage situation that might keep me controlled and oppressed. I’m grateful I don’t have an army knocking at my door and that I didn’t have to riot, protest, and burn things down in order to attain basic human rights. 

On Canada Day, I will celebrate those things, because they are all worthy of celebration. 

But like the fainter rainbow was a less perfect reflection of the brighter rainbow, if I look a little deeper, there are a lot of less than perfect aspects of Canada that irk me. 

For instance, why can’t we get our act together and do something about the appalling state of many of our First Nations reservations? Why can’t we get a national housing strategy going? How about national subsidized daycare? 

And I am most certainly not grateful for our recent weather, though I am grateful we don’t have some of the nasty storms--hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.--that a lot of other places in the world get. I’m grateful for a lot of the great music we have in this country I enjoy on a daily basis, but I am not grateful when, during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill (which I always watch) the first thing the organizers do is trot out the country music twangers and neglect to invite any heavy metal bands. I am grateful I’ve managed to live in a lot of different places in Canada, and I’m grateful I don’t live in some of them anymore.

As the Kermit song ran through my head as I watched those rainbows, I reflected that I can always find something negative even in a moment that is otherwise wonderful. It’s the same with Canada. Relatively, we have little to complain about here; we have it pretty good compared to a lot of places. Aren’t we consistently rated by the United Nations (or whoever) as one of the best countries in the world to live in?

But I don’t think that we should ever stop striving for more. That would just create complacency, and complacency never got anyone that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.