After watching this TED talk a few weeks ago, I knew I would eventually refer to the inspiring presentation. Gavin Pretor-Pinney describes why we can be joyful in the most simplest of ways, like an everyday activity such as looking at the clouds. He even turned this into a organization: the Cloud Appreciation Society!
My personal search for sincere bliss has been happening over the last couple years. I was wondering and wandering into the emotional, intellectual, and physical pursuit of: joy. I mean, I know I can be happy. I know I can crack a joke or two. However, it seemed to be a common theme through my life that eventually others would point out to me, "Hey, you don't seem so joyful." Apparently my body language and my overall “look” was not beaming with jovial expressions.
|And all the time, I thought I looked like this....|
Instead of a constant grin and a showing of “good spirits”, I could be found with a more focused and unemotional expression. I would have a face of contemplation, seriousness, and whatever other perceptions people saw as they attempted to peer into my world. I simply wish they would have asked, or offered support rather than make a quick judgement of my emotional. Yet, maybe they were right. Maybe I simply didn’t take the time to “live life with my head in the clouds.” I was not able to truly engage in dreaming and imagination. Although I preached this by my mouth, my ability to fully engage in life was not really experienced until I truly interacted with others and nature (Interim-Service of “Adoption Journeys), went back home for Christmas to be with my family and friends, and then went on an unbelievable service trip to Liberia.
|Butterfly at Huge Grace - our struggle, everyone's struggle|
|Adoption Journey's - everyone except Mrs. Tonn!|
|Family Christmas - Great times!|
|Liberian Flag on Armed Forces Day, one day after the Playground Dedication|
As I look back, I definitely see the blessings. My life was touched and blessed, love for God and love for others became clear because "it's all about relationships.". My Creator provided people, paths, and answers to prayer. My family and friends were sometimes the “clouds” which allowed me to see life through a different lens. Sometimes those clouds were fluffy, clear-as-day clouds and other times they were a cool reprieve from the hot, tense stress of life. There were even times when the clouds came along as storm clouds. When this happened, it meant I had to wait. I needed to take cover, be safe with regard to decisions, and fully appreciate the power of that which was out of my control. Eventually though, all would pass and I was able to get out and truly enjoy the outside.
Just in case you miss it
Since I am often unable to draw a clear point with audiences, let me be straight forward with the point of this entry: You and I have a great opportunity to experience the extraordinary by taking the time, effort, and energy to see the mystery and majesty of life in the ordinary. I am willing to bet you will experience peace, patience, and probably even joy.
In simple english terms and phrases, we can - and should - “stop and smell the roses”. We need to live with our "head in the sky." Then, take it a step further and consider the intricacy of the rose, it’s stem, the photosynthesis, and the myriad of other factors it took for that flower to be in your path. Take a moment to contemplate the many different forms of the clouds and how they are given to us in abundance while providing a spectacle of scientific inquiry.
It is clear to me, there is a design and a purpose to the way living beings are woven into form and function.
This causes me to think. However, I must admit, a good percentage of my life has been spent in this extreme of being too intense about ideas, opportunities, and possibilities. “You think too much, JR.” Then, the opposite of this approach to life has been to simply live in the moment. “Man, you are crazy”. While I do enjoy having a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” attitude, I need reconsider the times and places. I have to know the people and the situation at hand. Truly, I do appreciate the flexibility, spontaneity and excitement that comes along with a worldview and mentality of taking life as it comes. Also, I really don’t mind making choices as they need to be made, rather than being very detailed in my planning and thinking about the future. Is there a balance to be made?
Alas, back to my inner-dilemma and outer-response. As a school teacher, I can’t afford the luxury of simply “winging-it”. The time I have, the productive time has been limited and sometimes non-existent. Yet, when I am able to truly set some goals as well as a plan to achieve those objectives.
Are you just a bit curious about what my approach will entail? Well, let’s just say I don’t like “weather conversations”. On the other hand, I am sincerely anticipating the curiosity and responses from my students as I encourage them to discover the joy of cloud spotting.
Enjoy the basic, everyday-ness of today. There are a LOT of people in this world who would be truly overwhelmed with joy if they could live a day in your life. Dream big, but remember to count your blessings for the answers to prayer, the dreams realized, and the life you have already experienced.