“In the afternoon I watch the clouds drift past the bald peak of Mount Tukuhnikivats. (Someone has to do it.)” Edward Abbey, Desert Solitare
Yesterday afternoon, while reading on the patio, drops of sweat dotting the pages, I thought I’d check my email and oh, google a few things. Then I caught myself. One of the most exciting assignments I gave my Colby College students (I teach January Semester there, most years) required them to once, during the weekend, catch themselves as they reached to check their phones. Instead, they were to look around and see what attracted their attention. I’m a big fan of Arnold Mindell, the author, teacher, and therapist, who developed Process Oriented Psychology. In my favorite book of his, “The Shaman’s Body”, he introduced a new idea of ‘flirting’. The idea is that things we encounter may ‘flirt’ with us, insist that we pay attention to them. This was the point of the Colby assignment. At any moment, if we stop what we’re doing and look around, we’ll find something that wants our attention, something that ‘flirts’ with us. When I think about it, instead of reaching for my computer, I try to sit up straight and look around. Yesterday, on the patio in the heat, one beautiful particular cloud grabbed my attention. I watched it for a while and noticed it ever-so-subtly changing, as clouds are prone to do. This needed documentation, I thought. I focused my phone/camera on that cloud and set my exercise timer for 30 second intervals. Starting at the top each photo is the cloud thirty seconds after the one preceding it. Some changes more dramatic than others, that the cloud evolves irregularly. Amazing, eh? Since that cloud obviously flirted with me, I needed to wonder why. Clouds are important symbols. I discovered in fact, that having a cumulonimbus cloud flirt with you, or visit you in a dream has a different message than a cumulus cloud, which I believe, is the cloud I watched. (Cumulonimbus meaning dark and ominous and future turmoil. Cumulus, being puffy and white, symbolize creativity and imagination. Playfulness.) After finding this information, I looked back up and my cloud had disappeared.