Time and time again, children who are caught with their “heads in the clouds” have been reprimanded by adults to snap out of it, focus, pay attention. Snap out of imagination, out of possibilities, out of ingenuity, focus on reality, pay attention to the lecture, don’t talk, don’t think, bury your ideas and dreams. At what point did this mindset become accepted? At what point did clouds acquire such a bad connotation?
As an adult, I regularly risk my life for clouds. When I go for walks in my sidewalk-less neighborhood, I am always looking up, oblivious to my surroundings. When I am driving, I must remind myself not to be a distracted driver: keep your eyes on the road, not the sky. The sky entrances me, and I’ve never really understood why it doesn’t have that same effect on everybody else. When I come out of the grocery store and see the grand, glorious mountain-cloud bursting with light and colors so heavenly that I wonder if it’s the Second Coming, my soul gasps like Flint Lockwood when it first rains burgers, and I don’t understand why no one else in the parking lot is taking pictures, or even looking for that matter.
If this is me around town, you can only imagine the places I go while standing still before the ocean. I am much more than a dreamer with “childish” fantasies though. I think I came out of womb a philosopher, but along the way, I have acquired life experience and lessons, hardships, gratitude, spirituality, and a master’s degree. When I observe nature, I still admire its surface beauty, still wonder, still imagine, still escape, but now I see the beauty as a gift and natural healer from a divine being, I wonder about the meaning of life and what my gifts are, I imagine endless ways I and others could make meaningful difference in this world, and I escape because I know that I simply must exercise my soul to stay healthy, to be my best me, to live to my fullest potential.
When I observe nature, I see the metaphorical parallels to our human existence, to the personal daily grind and the bigger, collective picture. All of my philosophies about life seem to stem from a stem, a cloud, a shell, a bird. The greatest wisdom I have acquired comes from nature, for it is out here on my patio, out along the shores, out among the trees, that everything within me becomes tranquil, and I lose myself, find myself, restore myself, reinvent myself. Nature is full of messages for us; it is the ultimate teacher, free and accessible (for now, anyway). All you have to do is show up and be still, be silent. If you never pick up the conch shell to put it to your ear, you cannot hear its whispers, and it is that sapience from the shell that remains within us, during and long after that lecture.