Christopher Chelpka

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Cloudy With a Chance of Wisdom

Proverbs tells us that fools ignore the world God has made. They live their lives against the grain and then suffer for it. Wise people, on the other hand, reflect on the world, learn from it, and tend to succeed.

But you can’t reflect on something you haven’t observed. Wisdom starts with paying attention. You have to look around and spend time noticing things.

If that makes sense to you but you’re not sure what to look at, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a U.K. graphic designer who founded the Cloud Appreciation Society, suggests in his TED talk that you look at—you guessed it—the clouds.

Most of us, he says, ignore the clouds until they block the sun. And then we notice them only as “annoying, frustrating obstructions,” before we “rush off and do some blue-sky thinking.”

That being said…

most people, when you stop to ask them, will admit to harboring a strange sort of fondness for clouds. It’s like a nostalgic fondness, and they make them think of their youth.

Who here can’t remember thinking of looking and finding shapes in the clouds when they were kids? You know, when you were masters of daydreaming.

It’s just that these days, us adults seem reluctant to allow ourselves the indulgence of just allowing our imaginations to drift along in the breeze. And I think that’s a pity. I think we should perhaps do a bit more of it.

I think we should be a bit more willing, perhaps, to look at the beautiful sight of the sunlight bursting out from behind the clouds. And go wait a minute - there’s two cats dancing the salsa, or seeing the big - the big, white, puffy one up there over the shopping center looks like the abominable snowman going to rob a bank.”

These were the clouds outside my study window tonight.