This summer I was sitting around my fire in the Rainbow and my girlfriend asked me to read aloud a chapter from Somewhere Under the Rainbow and I flicked the book open to the chapter about health.
‘The urge towards simplicity is understandable in a world that has grown too complex to understand. As biologists sequence the genome, clone organisms and even reduce the brain itself to the status of an organic computer, the instinctive response is to run for the hills in search of sunlight, human touch and cosmic energy.’
I was deeply impressed by the author’s insight and patience.. Faced with Rainbow theories about chem trails, living on light alone, and healing through rubbing crystals on the back of your neck, he didn’t react with contempt and judgement but instead strove to understand what motivated people to believe these things. When had I ever been so calm and compassionate?
In the Rainbow Gatherings I generally find myself biting my tongue half the day and muttering under my breath about the dumb things people say and do. Sometimes I just find it funny, like when a sister with a cold was advised to breathe in the toxic smoke from the camp fire, but mostly it just grates on my nerves when people begin to talk about healing, superfoods and homeopathy. I even announced to friends gathered at my fire that I was going to fast from negative comments but I could hardly go a few hours before something critical sprang to my lips.
I was moved by an Indian I once saw in a documentary who, when asked what he thought about gurus who get rich from their devotees, declared:
‘Do not even think about it. Such thoughts are simply contaminating your mind.’
And yet when i hear saying things that are simply not true – that HIV doesn’t exist, for instance, I’m possessed with the urge to shake the person hard about the shoulders and shout tell that to the families of the 45 million people who have died from it in the last 30 years!
And yet when I was younger I believed a lot of romantic thoughts that had no basis in fact. It was only when at the age of 30 I finally got round to learning about how science works that I realised I had been talking out of my ass for years on many topics. So why is it so hard for me now to have patience with people whose beliefs say more about their personalities, identities and temperament than any claim on the truth?
In fact the first draft of Somewhere Under the Rainbow was considerably more negative. The first person to read it told me he enjoyed it a lot but that it gave him zero desire to go to a Rainbow Gathering. In successive drafts I did my best to remove all traces of bitterness or contempt from personal anecdotes and take a broader picture.
I suspect people who read the book will think I’m a nicer person than I am…