The Creative Imperative

How innovation and play beget wellbeing

Why Are There So Many Songs About Rainbows?

We all need hope. We all need horizons.

It's time to come out of the closet. 

I'm a Muppet-lover and I don't care who knows it. I'm gonna shout it from the mountaintops, consequences be dammed. I've been a Muppet-lover since forever. I just never had the courage to tell anyone. I'm not sure why it took me so long to embrace this truth, maybe I'm secure enough now in my adulthood that I can look myself in the mirror and own who I really am. I love Muppets, the Muppet Show, and the Muppet movies.

I actually think that my self-acceptance has been hastened by the arrival of my children. My kids seem to feel the same way as I do about Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and especially Beeker β€” I just love that orange haired freak and his pained wishes to be heard and understood amidst his harried "meeps." 

I sing the Rainbow Connection to my son each night that I put him to sleep and I do so with pride. It wasn't until this morning when I actually decided to think about the song lyrics β€” yes, I know, I should probably have taken the time to do this before, but I think of the delay as a part of my recent awakening and acceptance of my life-long love of Muppets, so cut me some slack.

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There I was on my way into the office when I thought to myself: "Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?" Science figured out the answer to "what's on the other side?" a long time ago, so what's the big deal? - Spoiler Alert: if you don't want to know the scientific answer to what's on the other side of rainbows, don't click on this link. Also, skip the next line in this article.

The point is that if we know that rainbows are just optical illusions why bother to write and sing about them? It could be just that rainbows are beautiful, but its more than that. I think it has to do with the fact that rainbows are always in the distance and we can never get to "the other side." The virtue of rainbows is that they represent our personal horizons β€” they are metaphors for hope. Rainbows serve as reminders that even, and especially, if we are feeling soaked in the rain that there is something beautiful out there for us if we keep moving forward.

We all need hope. We all need horizons. 

Even if we consciously know that rainbows are just illusions they keep us focused on the horizon. Rainbows help us train our eyes up and out, as opposed to down and in. Believing in the future and looking at a beautiful horizon is powerful and can make all of the difference in our lives.

That's why there are so many songs about rainbows, and frankly, I hope that people write more and more of them for us, and our kids.  

Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression.

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