Shapes in the Clouds

By: Christine Hersom

(3 min read)

Have you ever laid on the grass and looked up at the clouds in the sky to see what shapes you can find? I do it whenever I have the chance. It’s kind of my meditation time.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, there is a name for this activity. It is nephelococcygia (sounds like a disease). Don’t even ask me how to pronounce it since before today, I didn’t even know it had a name. I prefer to think of it as looking for shapes in the clouds.

If you have played this game with the clouds, do you find all kinds of cool shapes? I find shapes and sometimes an animal or part of one, but never the murals that are all over the internet. Do people REALLY see Jesus, Donald Trump, and fully decorated cathedrals?  Maybe they do or maybe they photoshop the pictures to get lots of “likes” on Facebook.

I work with children, and we will lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds.The children I work with range in age from newborn to six years old. We find letters, shapes, and sometimes a weird looking dog or a kite. But we have never found a complete person. The most popular thing we find is a campfire. The kids see a campfire every time we do this. They like campfires. Usually as we talk about it, they see marshmallows on sticks and sometimes they see a full s’more. The power of suggestion? A good imagination? Whatever it is, we have more fun with this activity than anybody should have.

Today the children and I laid in the grass and looked for shapes in the clouds. This is one activity that all the children love. This activity is not only well loved, but free. The only other activity that beats this one is water play.

Staring at the clouds is relaxing and quiet. Quiet is hard to come by when there are groups of little children running around.

Laying outside with the children always amuses me. The shapes they find are amazing. Again, most often they see campfires, marshmallows, but sometimes even a dog or a horse. I love to lay there and listen to their excitement. “I see a horse” … “I see a slide.” They always find what they love in the clouds. Beware of the child that doesn’t see what another sees. If I am not careful, a full war can erupt. Like adults, kids also become angry if you do not see things their way.

I sometimes see letters or shapes, but I never see what they do. I ooh and aah over their finds and smile at their imaginations. Today the boys found a firetruck. I couldn’t for the life of me see anything resembling a firetruck. But I do know that about fifteen minutes before we started, a fire truck went by my house. Kids’ abilities to see what they love always amazes me. I wish I could see what they see.

When do we lose our childlike imagination? Is it life that takes it away or do we pack it away so that we seem more adult like? I remember as a child finding all kinds of things in the clouds. I saw princesses, frogs, horses, dogs, and castles (interestingly, all the things I loved). Now, I can’t seem to let go of my mind enough to find the details of my youth.

Today when we first started, I saw nothing but billowy clouds throughout the sky. The kids were full of what they saw. One little boy kept asking, “Do you see the firetruck?” I didn’t. He told me to just open my eyes. I laughed at his candor. I believe I have to do more than open my eyes. I have to open my mind and my heart and let my imagination take over. I try to relax enough and dig deep for my childhood imagination. It is hard to do as an adult. There is always something important that needs doing. But, finding our imagination and learning to let go like a child does is one of the most important things we as adults could do. We would all be happier and more relaxed.

I wonder if the world would be a better place if we didn’t lose our imagination as adults. If we could always find the beauty in things and in each other, the world would be beautiful.

Christine Marshall Hersom
All Things Wellness, LLC

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