These menacingly dark and dramatic clouds hover over the sea off the south coast of Devon. The tiny speck of the Eddystone Lighthouse is just visible on the horizon. As dark as the clouds may look, in reality it’s more an effect of the light; the setting sun shines with a diffused glow behind them as they reflect the steely grey of the sea.
It’s a creative game for me, imagining what I see when I look at clouds. Do they present me with a shape, an image, with something I can put a name to, such as a dragon, a dog’s nose, a face, a hedgehog? The possibilities are endless, only limited by my own imagination. The dark clouds pictured above remind me of the music for Mars, from The Planet’s Suite by Gustav Holst – visually they have a similar menacing staccato to them like the sound of the insistent repetitive notes at the opening of this piece of music.
Looking at clouds with an imaginative eye reminds me of the song “Both Sides Now”, words and music by Joni Mitchell:
Bows and flows of angel hair…and ice cream castles in the air
And feathered canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way….
Joni liked playing imaginative cloud spotting too.
Clouds feature in the book “Illusions – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach, published back in 1977. The two main characters assume the roles of Teacher and Student; one of the lessons is about cloud vaporising – literally dissolving a cloud up in the sky by concentrating on it and making it disappear.
The Student, working on it, tries hard but finds when he thinks something is happening, the cloud strikes back and gets bigger than ever. His Teacher asks him to choose another cloud so he can demonstrate how easy it is. The Student picks the meanest, blackest, biggest cloud around; of course, the Teacher zaps it in no time at all, then asks the Student to try again.
The Student gives a small wispy cloud all he’s got – visualising heat rays bombarding it, asking it to reappear somewhere else – and very slowly the cloud begins to dissolve and eventually disappears. The Teacher, unimpressed, points out that it took a long time to disappear because the Student was attached to it, the lesson being “If you really want to remove a cloud from your life, you do not make a big production of it, you just relax and remove it from your thinking. That’s all there is to it.”
Clouds in this context can be viewed as a metaphor for issues we face in life, but after reading this back in the 70s I’ve often tried cloud zapping myself (going for the smaller wispy types as the bigger, denser ones are more difficult and take longer!). My son, as a teenager, didn’t believe cloud zapping was possible – until he tried it and found it worked.
Of course, a bit of time is needed for cloud zapping, along with persistence and the will to make it work – and I guess that applies to metaphorical cloud zapping too, and dissolving an issue which we’re attached to and is taking up time, energy and space in the clear blue sky of life.