It was rainbowing for at least an hour on January 8th 2010. It was incredible.
The camera could not capture the vivid intensity and brightness.
Look into the mirror, look into your soul! – “Yosemitebear62”
Yosemitebear62 was also known as Paul “Bear” Vasquez. And, yes, you may well have seen this viral video before. Nearly 50 million people have, but it bears revisiting from time to time in order to relearn one thing: JOY.
The amateur video shows the view from Vazquez’s property into the skies above the Yosemite Valley on January 8, 2010. After moving away from several trees that interfere with the scene, Vazquez enjoys an unobstructed view of a semicircular double rainbow. Vasquez’s reaction captures his intense emotional excitement; he weeps with joy and moans ecstatically, uttering phrases such as “Double rainbow all the way across the sky,” “What does this mean?” and “Too much!”
Paul later confirmed he was completely sober but overcome with joy; once common to our childhood but growing rarer as life rolls by.
Unalloyed and unabashed joy in life is something we all are born with. Something innate in our response to being alive. Young children at play by themselves or others are subject to many many fits of joy. They can let the joy in life and creation explode out of them without a shred of self-consciousness They can also beam and move and speak and sing with quiet joy by themselves or with others. All children in childhood experience spontaneous joy.
Then, at some point, it stops.
At puberty? At the end of innocence? I don’t know. I only know that this Edenic feeling is at some point withdrawn from the sheaf of emotions we can call up at will, only to be given back from time to time and seldom at the time one would wish it.
I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.”
― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Maybe that is the real nature of the gift of joy; that it is a gift either contained within or wrapped around grace. And for such a gift we can only watch and wait.
Paul “Bear” Vasquez was the kind of soul that was open to joy and knew it when he was given it. I’m glad he’s over the top in spontaneous prayer. I am overjoyed that he can just let his feeling of joy out without a filter. I know there are a host of people who mock and sneer at Bear’s blue-collar tone and vocabulary. But Bear doesn’t need bigger words for his prayer. He just needs the power of his joy; a joy that is unrelenting.
“In a May 3, 2020, Facebook post, Vasquez spoke of feeling feverish and having trouble breathing. However, he refrained from going to a hospital, as he looked forward to reincarnating and “enjoying the ride”. On May 9, Vasquez died in the emergency room of John C. Fremont Hospital in Mariposa, California. “
Good for you Bear. You got a double rainbow out of the deal. That and getting 50 million people to share the sheer joy of it. Vaya con Dios, Vasquez. See you a little further down the road.