As I kid I remember thinking how cool it would be to go inside a cloud.
I think I knew enough to know that the cartoons were wrong: surely you can’t stand or walk on clouds.
That seems unreasonable.
But to be in one? The thought was intoxicating.
I’d stare up at the sky and wonder what it would look like. Feel like. Smell like (do clouds smell? Like cotton? Or grass? Or marshmallows?). I’d imagine the ways the pillowy substance would wrap around my body, neither warm nor cold, but like baby bear’s soup: just right.
It’s hard to say how often I thought about this. To say every day would be an overstatement. But it wasn’t all that infrequent, either.
I wanted to be in a cloud.
Years went by and, as they do, such childhood fantasies and fascinations fade until at some point I probably hadn’t thought about clouds in a long time. So it’s hard to identify when it finally happened, but I recall there was a moment when I was hiking (or otherwise up on a mountain), and I was high enough to notice that OMG just right up there is a cloud!!
Just a few more steps, a bit more verticality, and I would be in a cloud!
Now, at this point in my life surely I was old(er) enough to know that there prooooobably wasn’t anything to it. Almost certainly my earlier imaginings of it being-like-something to be-in-a-cloud were overblown.
Yet… still… I wondered…
What is a cloud? And what is it like to be inside one?!
I also distinctly recall, years later still, encountering clouds in one of my first airplane rides. Leaving the city was unremarkable: clear skies. But landing? Landing meant descending through a vast sea of fluffy, stark white clouds.
Again, let me state, eventually I did indeed hit ages of maturation to know that it (very likely) wouldn’t be like my little-kid brain thought it might be.
But still… I remember feeling slightly giddy as the plane descended. Wondering what it would be like to be in an entire world of clouds.
I think life is like this sometimes.
Where we invest—either consciously or subconsciously—enormous amounts of emotional capital into expectations about something.
An experience (skydiving! Vegas! golfing that fancy course! trying that famous restaurant!)
A relationship (this person will be different! this time it’ll stick! this one will fill that void!)
An object (new car! better clothes! fancier phone!)
An achievement (promotion! credentials! degrees!)
We think it’ll be the thing that gets us there (wherever there is). We think it’ll change us somehow. We get our hopes up that it will be a certain kind-of-thing, and have a certain impact on us.
And look, sometimes it does, right?
I mean, sometimes we really do experience significant bumps in happiness and well-being on the other side of a new job, or an upgraded piece of technology, or a new relationship.
But other times?
Other times, a cloud is just a cloud.
Once you finally get inside one… after years of longing and dreaming and imagining… you look around and realize,
there’s not really… anything… here?
Once I finally got high enough, through hiking or through planes, to experience being in and/or trying to touch/hold/feel/smell clouds, I was hit with the crushing reality of a bunch of nothingness.
I really, really wanted clouds to be more than they ended up being.
But a cloud is just a cloud.
Pretty from afar, but definitely over-promises and under-delivers on it’s ability to make any kind of lasting impact.
Look, please feel free to have expectations and hopes and dreams and desires. All of that is good. It gives us ambition and motivation. It fuels us. It provides its own kind of value and worth in our lives.
But maybe just keep in mind that sometimes a cloud is just a cloud.
And sometimes we go through life placing inordinate amount of hopes and expectations on things to be more than they ever can be.
If they are?
Then wow, what grace! Be grateful.
But if they’re not?
If—once you reach them, get inside them, taste and see them—you’re hit with a big ol’ pile of nothingness?
That’s pretty normal.
Try and just smile, laugh it off, and say to yourself,
Meh… sometimes a cloud is just a cloud.
What about You? What have been some “clouds” in your life?
Would you wanna share in the comment section about something you really really thought would change your life, only to finally get there and be like… 😕
I’d love to hear about it! And tell us how you felt… how you managed it… how the experience impacted you.
Yes 💜 I just love this, Colby. I think a lot of people (myself included) ruin a lot of really GOOD things, great things even, in a chase for something more/better/perfect. It kind of reminds me of the saying “there’s no ‘there’ there.” My career path has been one of these such “clouds.” I’ve finally realized that a job is just a job. Obviously, I do not advocate for “settling” for a career (or a relationship, etc) that is unfulfilling or damaging or harmful. But I think no matter the situation, we will always have an ache and wonder “is this really all that there is?” And that’s just part of being human 💜
I think I went through a period of years as a young adult Evangelical where I entertained a fantasy that one day, with enough prayer and Bible study . . . and "home group" participation, and regular church attendance . . . and tithing . . . and always another "And" of some sort, there would be some sense that I had "arrived" at a place of peace where all the Big Questions were overcome by my proper biblical worldview. And of course, one day Jesus himself would descend, riding on the clouds . . .
I'm not sure when it happened, but over time, and with exposure to some "non-Christians" who were actually more loving and certainly more patient than I was, I had to look at that "cloud" and realize it was only one cloud in a sky full of many others. These days, I'm trying to grasp that "faith" usually means trusting that there is always more to see in clouds that are full of color and always changing:)