28 May 2014

How to Enjoy Clouds

They were moving so fast across the deep blue sky. The air currents up high were pushing the white fluffy clouds with the deliberation of a shepherd hurrying to get his flock away from a rain storm.

On a hot afternoon 30 years ago today I sat in front of our house, facing the sky, mesmerized by the transformations and the speed of clouds. I think I sat there for hours. The clouds were beautiful and they let me fantasize about what it was to sit up there.

And I can do that still. How about you?

I can lie down on the warm grass and look at the sky, follow the clouds' routes and imagine what it is to walk on them. I am even more delighted when I'm in an airplane and have the chance to peek "behind the scenes" of the life of clouds.

How to Enjoy Clouds

But looking is not the only thing I do, I photograph them. Although I have little knowledge about their types and names, clouds have been an inspiration for my artworks for a good 5 years now.

The following cloud image was selected as one of the TOP TEN altered images according to Smithsonian Mag for 2013.

How to Enjoy Clouds

Although they get some really bad publicity, clouds can be an invaluable source of inspiration for the people who are willing to see.

"Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked. They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save on psychoanalysis bills." Source.

"Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked. They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save on psychoanalysis bills."

If you are still not sure that you can enjoy clouds the following 7 steps might be of help.

1. Learn to look up often.

How many times a day do you look up into the sky? My sister recently shared with me her surprise at how just a few people ever looked up. I think there is a common belief that only dreamers have the time for it but why not be one? Why not take your life one day at a time and find time to actually stop and stare high up into the sky. You will see a different universe above that will amaze you - you know - birds, trees, clouds that are always different... If you are persistent you will notice that you develop the ability for dreaming. And this is a good thing for sure.

2. Wait for the sunset.
The clouds are most beautiful at sunset. Not only do they get romantic shades and warm colors but because the sunlight is low, it gives them a totally different, other-worldly dimension.

Now turn your back to the setting sun and look to the east. Do you notice how the colors change? They are more into the blues and violets, and purples. Do you realize that all this parade of colors and fluffy cloud shapes is there just for you?

3. Designate cloud watching time.
Make sure you spend at least 5 minutes a day looking at clouds. It could be in your lunch break, or when your kids are taking their afternoon nap. You can find 5 minutes for quiet, peaceful observation of the clouds in the sky, be they soft and white or grey, stormy ones.

In the beginning you might feel ridiculous spending time for cloud watching but if you manage to keep that routine for 10 days you will realize that it has become part of your YOU time, and you feel calm and relaxed and are actually looking forward to these 5 minutes.

4. Become a member of The Cloud Appreciation Society.
When I heard of The Cloud Appreciation Society in 2012 I was ecstatic. I could hardly imagine a more appropriate society to be a member of! So, why don't you try it yourself? The Cloud Appreciation Society currently has 35,301 members from all over the world, so you can connect to many interesting people, who are interested by clouds.

It is easy to love clouds when you have company. The members of the society photograph and post cloud photos daily and you will truly be blown away at the visual display on the sky all over the world.

5. Challenge yourself.
Challenge yourself to find something special even in the most boring clouds you see. This is an exercise in imagination and you will soon feel its effect on you. You'll thank me later.

6. Photograph clouds. 
I've noticed that using photography as an excuse to do anything can make me more responsible. You can start a visual project by photographing clouds each day in your designated 5 minutes. That will help your creativity, which in turn will clear your head, help you overcome any mild depression or simply bad mood. Life seems brighter when you have a purpose.

It is worth noting that you don't need fancy equipment and you need not question the quality of your photographs. You can use your phone, simple as that. If you are more adventurous, why not upload your photos to flickr, instagram, or any social media. By the way, Twitter has been hailed as the newest place for photos.

7. Use cloud spotting as a digital detox.
As Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society writes in a CNN article,
"Finding shapes in the clouds is an aimless, carefree pastime that we adults should also do more of. The digital age conspires to make us feel busier than ever. Cloudspotting, by contrast, is an activity that legitimizes doing nothing.

These days, we need excuses to do nothing. Happiness comes not from a desperate search for stimulation elsewhere but from finding what is intriguing, surprising and "exotic" in the everyday stuff around us. You don't need to cross the world to be amazed. You just need to step outside and look up, every now and then, as if you are seeing the sky for the first time."
Take a step back and allow yourself a daydream. The clouds above you are waiting for you to discover them and use them to your own creativity.

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