My love affair with cloud gazing started in the summer of 2020.
I wandered into the Museo Madre in Naples and straight into a cloud-inspired photography exhibition by Carlo Verdone.
As I wandered around glancing at each photo, I felt something: a feeling of stillness, but also of awe.
Then, as I entered the real world through the museum exit, I glanced up and smiled as the clouds floated on by. Right up there above us, in full sight but also hidden, they are only available to bring joy into our lives if we choose to notice them.
How many of us actually notice clouds in our day-to-day life?
From that day on, I have always noticed them—yes, clouds. And sometimes, I look for them intentionally, when I need to be brought back into the present moment.
It’s a simple choice to glance up and look around at the sky, at the clouds—on one of my runs, bike rides, or walks. Or the moments when I glance out the window at home, or as I sit perched at the window on public transport. They are usually always up there in some form, unless we are enjoying a blue sky day—a rarity in Scotland.
One of my favourite cloud gazing experiences: when I claim the window seat on a plane and my eyes and mind are taken on a journey, watching as the clouds float by. When the plane floats through the clouds, we are presented with the most stunning scene—in the bluest of skies, the clouds float below the plane like a big, fluffy trampoline. They float freely with no assistance, and no two clouds are the same. It’s a bit like us humans.
Clouds force you out your head and into the present moment. They make you feel something hard to explain—perhaps, literally, a floaty feeling—you feel light headed. They are beautiful. All different shapes, sizes, colours, and textures. Some seem static, others float past. And even when the sky is filled with clouds, the sun still shines beyond them.
So, if we compare our thoughts to clouds, then even on the stormiest and darkest day, we know they will eventually clear, and the sun will shine. I love that thought.
Clouds are a large part of society’s make-up; they’re frequently a part of our dialogue. For example, do you recognise the phrase, “walking on cloud nine?” Where did the phrase come from? In 1896, the greatest cloud in the world, cumulonimbus, was listed as “cloud nine” in a new cloud classification, and so to be on cloud nine became like floating on the tallest cloud on Earth.
Cloud nine is described as a feeling of extreme happiness or euphoria, or feeling like you’re floating on air, and is also described as giddy lightness—now that sounds like pure joy.
How can we bring more joyful cloud gazing into our life?
Make it a mindful practice—as and when you need it, or on a daily basis. Enjoy this secret, joyful activity that’s available to us all, but not always put to use. I give you permission to gaze up and smile.
When can you enjoy this dreamy act?
- Anytime, outside. Intentionally glance up, or spot them through a window in your home or when using transport.
- When lying down on the grass in the park or on a sun lounger. Glance up and mindfully observe the clouds. Feel the calmness as they float on past.
- Look back over old photos—now really look at those landscape photos. What do the clouds look like? How do they make you feel?
- Claim the window seat and prepare to be taken on a journey of pure giddiness on your night flight.
Clouds are the sky’s imagination.