I recently spent a weekend with my dorm friends in an AirBnb in the middle of the woods near a small lake. I will admit that the location itself was kind of bland because the only thing to explore was the lake, but it got me thinking a lot about what constitutes our environment around us and how that may affect our thought processes.
I think we undervalue the presence of clouds in our lives. I grew up in Washington where there was no one day where the clouds were absent from the gray sky, providing the atmosphere that is so commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest. I grew desensitized to those bodies that oversaw my 18 years there, but upon moving to California, the first thing I noticed was the sky. It was flat. It was 2D. There was nothing to indicate dimension and it saddened me to not have any signs of distance in the altitude above me. My eyes were accustomed to layers and levels of the sky that were so large in numbers that I couldn’t distinguish them all.
Without clouds, the sky looks flat and dead. It was the hardest part about moving to California, despite it only being two states down from where I call home.
If I want to get really deep and emotional, I guess I could say that being drawn to the absence of clouds is representative of my redevelopment as a person when moving to college. I was literally a blank slate, ready to make new connections. There was so much potential for new relationships, just like the sky holds the potential for new cloud formation, but it just wasn’t there yet, and it wasn’t going to come for a few weeks. Finally, when the clouds started appearing as wisps of white cotton on that big, bright, blue canvas, I started to develop deeper friendships with people.
Every day, I would wake up and look out the window and the sky would still be blank. When people asked me what I missed most about Washington, I could have said my friends or my family or the diverse range of cuisines or the hikes, but I just answered with, “the clouds.” It’s true. A dimensionless sky means a dimensionless personality.
It’s funny how clouds are just formed by condensation, or water vapor turning into liquid. It’s a basic scientific process of water phases going from one to another, but it’s so artsy and there are so many photographs and paintings of just clouds because that’s how fascinating we find them. No two clouds are ever same. It’s because of this that we may consider clouds to be abstract bodies, adding texture into the atmosphere. But really, this abstraction is pulled from the grounded nature of science.
Just a thought.