“In its dynamic intoxication, the imagination uses the cloud like an ectoplasm that sensitizes our mobility. In the long run nothing can resist the invitation of the clouds to travel as they patiently float by, again and again, far up in the blue sky. It seems to the dreamer as if the cloud could carry everything away with it: sorrow, steel, dreams.” -Bachelard
“The clouds multiply and merge, cumuli-nimbi piling up like whipped cream, like mashed potatoes, like sea foam, building upon one another into a second mountain range far greater in magnitude than the terrestrial range below.” -Edward Abbey
It is truly interesting how much clouds reflect our imagination. To put it simply (and scientifically), clouds are merely condensed water vapor. But no one ever looks up into the sky, points, and says, “Wow, that sure is some pretty water vapor.” We name rabbits, faces, buildings, or whatever we may “see” out of the clouds above us. And as kids, we imagine being able to reach up and touch the clouds, and picture what it must feel like. No kid ever expected to just feel water; instead, they imagined marshmallows, cotton candy, mashed potatoes, or something else fluffy, and imagined being able to walk, skip, jump, and run
from cloud to cloud. Our early knowledge on clouds was all purely based on imagination.
As we grow up, we learn about the water cycle and more and more on what clouds truly are. Many people stop looking for fun images in the clouds, and those that still do at the very least do it far less frequently. While we lose this childhood game of ours, we do not lose this way of thinking. The thought process is not forgotten, just evolved.
Children are imaginative and can create fun when only supplied with sticks or rocks. Essentially, when we are looking for shapes in the clouds above us, we are looking to find something out of nothing. At a glance, clouds are just these white blobs in the sky, but as kids, we find wonder and fun in them. This sets up our thought process of looking for something deeper in what seems like nothing. Now this may just be me, but when someone does something wrong, my first question is why. If I see someone cheating on an exam, I wonder if there is something going on at home that they were not able to study or focus on school. When I see murderers on Law & Order: SVU, I wonder what went on when they grew up that made them that way. But, maybe there is nothing to be found in my search for something out of nothing. Maybe the cheater is just a cheater, maybe the killer is just a killer. Maybe the cloud is just a cloud.
For me, that is just too cynical. While I do often look for explanations for why people did the things they did, I do not think those reasons should let the person be excused; they just justify the action, and make it something easier for me to understand. And I think that’s what we do as children, when we look up at the clouds. We do not understand what clouds actually are or how they appear to “float” above us, so we make up stories and images we see in them. I believe that is an important way of thinking, finding something out of nothing. We should always look for explanations, and we should always look for that flying horse in the sky.
(As always, thank you Google Images)