The Wonder of Clouds and Imagination

ocean rainbowI recently listened to an interview on public radio with Gavin Pretor-Pinney who is fascinated by clouds. As an amateur enthusiast he decided some years ago to give a program on clouds but didn’t think anyone would show up for a mere talk, so he called it the first meeting of the Cloud Appreciation Society. To his surprise a good number of people showed up and at the end of his presentation they wanted to know how they could join. That was the beginning of the formal group that now exceeds 37,000 members in almost 100 countries around the world.

Pretor-Pinney has since given a TEDx talk on the subject where with fine British humor he extolls the virtues of cloud spotting. He insists that clouds are a remarkable phenomena taking many forms yet because they are so commonplace we often ignore them. Plus because they cover the sun and bring rain they can be seen as an inconvenience. In his enthusiasm Pretor-Pinney asks us to take a fresh look at clouds and all that appreciating them can add to our lives.

As children we understood the wonder of clouds especially cumulus, the puffy white ones that form any number of shapes. Do you remember as a child when you were a master of imagination and saw in the clouds an animal or a fire engine or a person’s face or a tree.

As adults it usually doesn’t occur to us to let our minds drift with the clouds and allow our imagination to dance with the images. Yet watching clouds can exercise the imagination, relax our mind and bodies and bring us into the present moment. It becomes an everyday way to appreciate the beauty of the world around us which nourishes our heart and feeds our soul.

It can also help with creative flow. Albert Einstein when he was working on a problem would row a boat out into Lake Geneva, lie down in the bottom and watch the clouds. Taking a break from focusing on an issue and doing something relaxing activates the creative parts of our brain allowing us to have those ah..ha moments where the solution seems to arrive out of nowhere.

In our busy lives where we feel we have to be constantly doing, cloud watching “legitimizes doing nothing” and allows us to experience the benefits of simply being. Since listening to the talk on clouds I certainly have been taking a new look at them and enjoying the way they help me to be more present. Give it a try. Start paying closer attention to what the clouds are doing and just notice if you don’t start having some fun with it.

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