No Dull Topics: Watching Clouds

“There are no dull subjects, just dull writers.”

– said your pick of five writers

As they say: challenge accepted. Once a week, as intrepid writers and readers, we will test the limits of boredom and the meaning of dull. We will establish whether, indeed, there are No Dull Topics.

How? With your help! Each Monday, head over to the Skeleton At The Feast Facebook page to submit your dullest topic idea. What does dull mean? PG, and no more than three words including hyphens. The last comment as of 8 a.m. CT Tuesday morning is next week’s No Dull Topic! My role? To turn it into an entertainingly readable post.


Special thanks to Havoc Octavian Teslasmith for this week’s topic, “Watching Clouds.”


Watching clouds is not something easily pinned down; watching clouds, as a topic, is just as likely as the real thing to shift and coalesce, merge and disappear, leaving you frantically scribbling notes that make no sense to any future version of yourself. The longer you think, the more meanings emerge. 

There is the simple childhood act of laying back and watching the sky change. There is the notion of “the cloud” – that Internet creature that gulps information and stores it indefinitely. Then there is Aristotle’s Meteorologica, the Bible’s many clouds of revelation and concealment; clouds as creatures and clouds as castles; clouds as one of the most obvious harbingers of change in our planet’s weather system. The sources agree: clouds carry meaning – of some sort. 

It is easy to over-simplify water vapor in the sky. It is easy to over-complicate clouds. Today, it is the simplest image that transfixes my mind. The act of watching clouds is an anachronism. I say this not because I believe we are “too busy” or “too attached to our screens” or other easy excuses; as someone who spends most of my time either writing or reading on screens of varying sizes, that would be the height of hypocrisy. Rather, I refer to Merriam Webster’s second definition: “a person or thing that is chronologically out of place.” The act of watching clouds displaces one from time. It is that strange act of spending time with yourself. It is that strange phenomena of watching your own thoughts unfold: checking the weather of your own mind.

You learn things about yourself when you watch clouds. It isn’t something as diagnostic as a Rorschach test, or as flakey as a mood ring. It’s a simple question: are you there?

Are you there, and how do you see the world today? Have you dreamed recently? Have you thought of the thing you want most, have you put yesterday behind you, have you looked another human in the eyes? Do you remember what makes you smile? Do you remember anything, if you can help it? 

Is that dog or a horse? Ah, too late, it’s turning into a duck. 

Is that the person you want to be, or someone you never really liked? Ah, too late, you lost the way to tell them apart. 

You lost your way, with only clouds to give guidance; spring and shower, storm and gold-gray sun. Clouds are not such a bad guide to this sort of thing. Each of these moments is part of your life, each moment a change. 

There is no way to stop this change. There is no way to comprehend its entirety. But there are rare afternoons when you can lie back and watch it unfold, see some sort of balance or beauty between the blue and white. Some afternoons you are at peace with time; some afternoons are a beautiful day for cloud watching, whether cloudy or clear. And some afternoon – just perhaps – you’ll catch a glimpse of a cloud shaped like you, just for a moment, before that cloud also shifts and changes into something completely new.

Published by Marushka

I dream curiosity and write words that change brains.

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