Through the densely falling rain I can see clearly. Just hours earlier I had walked with my dog Yogi under a painting that was hung in the sky, almost Monet-ish. Shades of blue that would make the greatest artist swoon, drops of marshmallow pretending to be clouds, a sun that danced behind clouds and then shouted boo!

Now, in the deep velvet of night, a raging fountain of torrential rain appeared after a prologue of gusty, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Overture winds. It was the perfect setting for being retrospective.

About 10 years ago I was driving back from over the hill, over the pass that I had driven over thousands of times before, when suddenly it seemed like I had been blind and now could see with Superman vision. The colors were more vivid, blades of grass were so green that they could have been in Oz. Everything was new, more beautiful, more alive than I had ever seen it. I was passionately in love with each new technicolor image that greeted my eye. I did not know why I had been granted this wondrous gift of enhanced sight, but I feared it would end. And of course, as most things do, it did end. For a while I felt melancholy and seemed to wait like a dog waiting for a bone, until I realized that the gift was not returning. Several years passed and then my fate changed drastically, and I was moved to the far side of the moon, otherwise known as Fresno. I had moved kicking and screaming from Los Banos. The place I had called home for over 32 years. Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, and Omar Shariff, my trifecta, or fouretcha, could have all appeared on my doorstep at the time, and I would have said, yeh, what do you want? I am busy honing my depression.

Then one night, late, sky black, no sound but that of Yogi’s gentle feet on the pavement, I happened to look up. I was startled. Suddenly the sky was decorated with such stars as no human had ever seen, or so it seemed. I asked Yogi if he was seeing what I was seeing, and he barked yes. I questioned myself if I had ever seen a sky more dazzling, stars more numerous and so bright that you would have believed they had all just been polished before their show began. Thus began a new form of vision for me, not always present, of course, I am just human, but it would appear unexpectedly to my wonder, leaving me in a state of eternal expectation.

It made me remember a column I had written several decades ago about the difference between looking down and looking up. More than just the study of people who saw life as a glass half full or half empty, I realized we saw life from the lens we choose. Now no one on this earth can do this all the time, but when you choose to both look up and look for the half full, Eureka! I started testing my theory. If beauty was, as the old saying goes, in the eye of the beholder…. then why not behold it more?? And I have been working on that since then, and at times now my vision finds the most unfathomable beauty. Be it in the changing of clouds in the sky, the boron dressed in pink in the evening sky, the sight of small birds doing ballets in trees, and flowers who decked themselves in such vibrant colors that they almost hurt your eyes. Music at times seems to reach sweeter notes, the water in a shower seems to dance on my skin.

Why? I pondered. And pondered. Then I came across a theory that appeared too simple, and yet, as time passed, I could think of no other reason. And this past evening’s performance outside my window, which left me almost purring, brought back the question. Why? Is it because I am getting older? Is it because my days seem to be swiftly passing that I see all with a new super vision? Do we gain some fresh insight if we listen to the whispers coming from deep within our souls? I really do not know the answer, nor do I care to know it. For perhaps knowledge, in this case, might diminish or chase away this occasional gift.

Last week I had another birthday. I swear it seems like just last week I greeted the wise old age of seven, but back then all I wanted time to do was fly. Now, a brand new seventy-seven, I wish to pause and savor each moment when I can and while I can. I know that this gift will not be mine all the time, but when I have it, the world can be a rainbow of miracles and amazing visions. I feel blessed when these rare moments are given. Perhaps the best is left for those who wait, or the reward for those of us who open our eyes wide and look up.

Diana J. Ingram

Diana Ingram has been a columnist for Los Banos newspapers for four decades.