The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

Dolly Parton

We saw this rainbow when we were driving home, up Drumcondra Road. And while I wouldn’t dream of correcting Dolly, this time it didn’t even rain. It was just beautiful.

The rainbow, its colours, variety, and beauty, has been used as a symbol by many, from ancient mythology to modern equal rights campaigns. Some look for the pot of gold at its end, a girl from Kansas just wanted to get over it and get to the place where trouble melts like lemon drops.

Pádraig went to this year’s first Patrick’s Day gig in St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra last week. It was a beautiful day and an absolutely brilliant lunch time concert. Nearly a dozen very accomplished traditional musicians played the most enchanting ballads and uplifting reels and jigs.

With Patrick’s Day coming closer, days are getting longer, trees begin to blossom, and the first flowers appear around the place.

I listened to someone talking about the idea of fractals. As Jack Challoner put it in the article he wrote for the BBC on fractals: “Unfortunately, there is no definition of fractals that is both simple and accurate.”

He quotes the genius who coined the word, the Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot:

“Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.” 

Challoner concludes that the chaos and irregularity of the world – that Mandelbrot referred to as its roughness – is something to be celebrated. That it would be a shame if clouds really were spheres, and mountains cones.

My take on fractals is that what might on the surface appear to be simple, singular and well defined, is, in reality, often just a distant view of something that, at a closer look, is quite complex, multiple, and chaotic. Yet, there is system in the chaos. The multiple layers, the complexity, are made up of an endless number of similar-shaped objects: fractals.

A bit like the world and our lives: from a distance, the world looks blue and green, and the snow capped mountains white. There is harmony, we all have enough, and no one is in need. There are no bombs, no guns, and no disease.

Look closer and it becomes clear immediately that war, bombs and guns, hunger and disease, injustice and cruelty are all around us.

There are days when I’ve had enough of the complex, the chaos, and the irregularity. Of injustice, cruelty, wars and bombs. When I just cannot celebrate that roughness. When I need to see the world blue and green, and the snow capped mountains white. With people living in harmony.

When I want to enjoy the rainbow without the rain.

Those are the most beautiful moments in my life.

Being able to share them with the ones I love makes it all worth it.