TED Talk Tuesday – Gavin Pretor-Pinney: Cloudy with a chance of joy

Such a lovely and heartwarming talk. Here Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, reminds us to simply look up. He speaks of clouds with great eloquence and passion and makes a case for why cloud gazing can be a soul enriching experience.

Aristophanes, the ancient Greek playwright, he described the clouds as the patron goddesses of idle fellows two and a half thousand years ago, and you can see what he means. It’s just that these days, us adults seem reluctant to allow ourselves the indulgenceof just allowing our imaginations to drift along in the breeze, and I think that’s a pity. I think we should perhaps do a bit more of it.

They’re like nature’s version of those inkblot images, you know, that shrinks used to show their patients in the ’60s, and I think if you consider the shapes you see in the clouds, you’ll save money on psychoanalysis bills.

Clouds are not something to moan about. Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature. I think, if you live with your head in the clouds every now and then, it helps you keep your feet on the ground.

” These clouds are bombing along, but from all the way down here, they appear to be moving gracefully, slowly, like most clouds.And so to tune into the clouds is to slow down, to calm down. It’s like a bit of everyday meditation.

” Clouds are the most egalitarian of nature’s displays, because we all have a good, fantastic view of the sky.And these clouds, these rarer clouds, remind us that the exotic can be found in the everyday. Nothing is more nourishing, more stimulating to an active, inquiring mind than being surprised, being amazed. It’s why we’re all here at TED, right? But you don’t need to rush off away from the familiar, across the world to be surprised. You just need to step outside, pay attention to what’s so commonplace, so everyday, so mundane that everybody else misses it.

” We don’t live beneath the sky. We live within it. And that connection, that visceral connection to our atmosphere feels to me like an antidote. It’s an antidote to the growing tendency we have to feel that we can really ever experience life by watching it on a computer screen, you know, when we’re in a wi-fi zone.

Sometimes we need excuses to do nothing. We need to be reminded by these patron goddesses of idle fellows that slowing down and being in the present, not thinking aboutwhat you’ve got to do and what you should have done, but just being here, letting your imagination lift from the everyday concerns down here and just being in the present, it’s good for you, and it’s good for the way you feel. It’s good for your ideas. It’s good for your creativity. It’s good for your soul.


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