A Route Back To Wonder

Fabiana Fondevila

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Awakin Feature

“What is a sunset without clouds? A circle that crosses a straight line,” says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, creator of an original form of activism and of a manifesto that begins: “We believe that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.”

Clouds? Could they really be a motive for activism? At first glance it might seem at least curious that someone would want to devote his life to convincing his fellow Earthlings to look up and marvel at the spectacle of altocumulus, altostratus and cumulonimbus. But we only have to go back to childhood to understand. Who among us didn’t spend long moments lying on the grass identifying rabbits, mountains and unicorns in the fanciful forms drawn across the sky? Who was not surprised to see how those images transformed themselves from one moment to the next before our eyes? Or perhaps a better question would be: when did clouds stop captivating us? When did we stop raising our eyes to the sky?

Clouds have always been a source of inspiration and wonder. Not for nothing have they featured in works of art across the centuries. Starting in the Renaissance, they even came to be used as metaphors for the divine. But why should we as adults learn to live again with our heads in the clouds? Purely in terms of common sense, obvious answers include: because identifying the shapes and types of clouds allows us to predict the chance of rain and to know whether we can expect a hailstorm, or a light but incessant drizzle that will cause moss to grow in unexpected places. This would indeed be good reason to look up at clouds; but it barely scrapes the surface of their potential.

We don’t want to look at clouds to divine the weather forecast; we want to look at them so that we can dream again and remember that magic and beauty surrounds us at every step. We want to find in them a route back into wonder. “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important,” says Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince. Let’s waste time learning to love the world, every day, a little bit more and better. Let’s waste time on what’s truly important!

Fabiana Fondevila is an author, storyteller, ritual maker, activist, and teacher from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Excerpted from Where Wonder Lives.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the exhortation to find in the clouds a route back into wonder? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to lose yourself in wonder of the world? What helps you retain the capacity to wonder and not give in to cynicism?

Add Your Reflection:

11 Previous Reflections:

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    On Oct 5, 2020 Bradley wrote:
    Often times I'm moved to share a weekly reading with my students. I thought this one might particularly serve the younger generation. After reading it, and reflecting on some things that happened to her this past week, she responded with a poem. I asked her and she said she'd be honored if I shared it with you: growing up » october 2, 2020 a curious doggy drifts across the vast blue chasing an old woman with an umbrella? or maybe it was a witch pursuing a clue. it’s hard to tell what the white puffs spell, but we giggle anyway and think they’re true because the clouds are our own seashells. until we grow up, grow out of imagination and the heavens fade to weather stations. the crisp navy of fresh denim carries a thrill of feeling the holes close and a chapter begin. we take cute snaps and flaunt our bills, proud to wear fashion’s “new big thing.” but soon we miss that comfortable drill of stretchy fabric that seems to mold our skin. so when the cerulean f... [View Full Comment] Often times I'm moved to share a weekly reading with my students. I thought this one might particularly serve the younger generation. After reading it, and reflecting on some things that happened to her this past week, she responded with a poem. I asked her and she said she'd be honored if I shared it with you:

    growing up » october 2, 2020

    a curious doggy drifts across the vast blue
    chasing an old woman with an umbrella?
    or maybe it was a witch pursuing a clue.
    it’s hard to tell what the white puffs spell,
    but we giggle anyway and think they’re true
    because the clouds are our own seashells.
    until we grow up, grow out of imagination
    and the heavens fade to weather stations.
    the crisp navy of fresh denim carries a thrill
    of feeling the holes close and a chapter begin.
    we take cute snaps and flaunt our bills,
    proud to wear fashion’s “new big thing.”
    but soon we miss that comfortable drill
    of stretchy fabric that seems to mold our skin.
    so when the cerulean fades into familiar gray,
    we almost welcome it — until next pay day.
    life reminds me of clouds and jeans.
    at first, we make the most of every dream,
    but most everyone learns to grow up and out
    until we’re just rain and grayscale printouts.
    the million dollar question of the people nether:
    why can’t happiness last forever?
    it’s because we’re taught to value destruction,
    success has no meaning without obstructions.
    the problem with growing and trying and fading
    is that we build a routine that’s suffocating.
    instead of embracing fun, we call it “wasting time,”
    just to join the rat race for nickels and dimes.
    we try to stand out for the sake of being special
    but we give up that passion that’s so essential.
    we learn from the past and live for tomorrow,
    but today often gets lost in a bundle of sorrow.
    i want to be different, i don’t want to grow up —
    i just want to grow without all the buildup
    into a caring person who’s happy and kind
    that searches for knowledge to satiate her mind.
    i’ll know the weather, but still look at the clouds
    for i believe there’s wonder in those fluffy shrouds.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Oct 1, 2020 Mary wrote:
    I was sitting watching a bee the other day,then spotted a butterfly, and moved on to browsing among the flowers in my garden...then a squirrel trying to get some of the bird seed, birds following, a cat, the trees and plants, the blue clue sky, the sun shining while disappearing in and out between the clouds, and the moving clouds puffy puffs obscuring the sun,... and then sensing, with absolute wonder ...that I am living amongst all this...

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    On Sep 30, 2020 Evelyn wrote:
    Everything about this lifts my spirits. I love to walk and look up at the sky.

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    On Sep 29, 2020 Norma wrote:
    I need to remember the magic and beauty every day.

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    On Sep 29, 2020 Marcia Perryman wrote:
    Clouds are really wonderful in Canada at this time of year and I loved the idea of wonder. Wonder requires stillness and silence with no purpose or agenda. Wonder is dreaming for a gentler world and pondering what we can do to support that movement. Wonder is also appreciating the people that comment regularly on these pieces and encourage others to join the conversation.

    Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 29, 2020 Deven Shah wrote:
    Growing up in India, clouds always have so many positive connotations for me. I appreciate clouds for what they do and bring.

    In this article, I loved the connection betweenthe clouds and the magicand dreams and the sense of what is important in my life.

    Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 29, 2020 Jill wrote:
    My friend sent your newsletter to me this morning because I told her last night that I'd taken my yoga mat and pillow outside. I put it on the grass and lay looking up at the clouds just as I had done as a child. How serendipitous for this to arrive today! Thank you!

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    On Sep 29, 2020 Suzannah wrote:
    Ever since I was a child, lying on my back in the grass,I would stare up at the clouds and imagine all sorts of wonders. I don't believe I ever stopped and, although I adore a brilliant blue sky, I would not want ever to be without the myriad of always changing shapes in the clouds.

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    On Sep 28, 2020 Anilkumar Pandit wrote:
    'Cloud' is now even more inspirational, as it can take the form as wished by anyone and such forms can be shared worldwide.
    Just upload and download our wish or creations !!

    Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 26, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    Clouds are not the only place to find a route back into wonder, but clouds are definitely a place. What comes to mind as an outstanding time I lost myself in the wonder of the world was in viewing the Grand Canyon. Also coming to mind is my getting lost in a star-filled sky one night outside Zion National Park. Both experiences occurred a couple years ago and both were awesome and full of wonder for me. In both experiences, my wonder overrode and overwhelmed any cynicism in me. What helps me experience wonder as I am with whoever or whatever is being in the present, having no goal or purpose except to be with and experience, being mindful and giving my full attention. The sense of being one with or part of whoever or whatever is also a part of wonder that I experience.

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    On Sep 25, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Looking at the clouds floating in the sky is very fascinating to me. I felt this fascination as a child. The sky was a paly house. The clouds of different shapes coming and going were the actors filling my heart with wonder, delight and inspiration.Watching the play of the clouds made me wonder where they are coming from and where they are going. I expressed my wonderment in a poem that I wrote in my mother tongue. " Kon,Vadalanipachalachhupatu?" Whois hiding behind the clouds?" Sadly, our contact with nature has been diminished as we are getting more amd more urbanized. Occasionally we may look at the wonders of nature. Taking time out to see the wonders of nature has been a deeply enriching experiencefor me. I appreciate what Fabiana Fonderila says:"Let'swaste time learning to love the world, everyday, a little bit more and better. Let's waste time on what is truly important." A few years ago, we were traveling in Colorado. We were on the top of a mo... [View Full Comment] Looking at the clouds floating in the sky is very fascinating to me. I felt this fascination as a child. The sky was a paly house. The clouds of different shapes coming and going were the actors filling my heart with wonder, delight and inspiration.Watching the play of the clouds made me wonder where they are coming from and where they are going. I expressed my wonderment in a poem that I wrote in my mother tongue. " Kon,Vadalanipachalachhupatu?" Whois hiding behind the clouds?" Sadly, our contact with nature has been diminished as we are getting more amd more urbanized. Occasionally we may look at the wonders of nature. Taking time out to see the wonders of nature has been a deeply enriching experiencefor me. I appreciate what Fabiana Fonderila says:"Let'swaste time learning to love the world, everyday, a little bit more and better. Let's waste time on what is truly important."

    A few years ago, we were traveling in Colorado. We were on the top of a mountain.There were a few clouds moving in front of the setting sun.There was a beautiful display of colors of the clouds and slowly slowly the sun vanishing in the horizon. We were spell bound by the natural beauty changing moment to moment. We will never forget this experience.

    Natural curiosity to be connected with the beauty of nature does not get stale or old. That's a gift freely given to us if we extend our hands to receive it. Remaining aware and attending to this gracious gift of nature with gratitude is the way to retain this natural capacity. According to me there is nothing cynical about it.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'
    [Hide Full Comment]

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