“Rows and flows of angel hair, ice cream castles in the air, I’ve looked at clouds that way,” the lyric that sets the standards for the delusional subjectivism.
We’ve all looked at a dimensional phenomenon and took comfort from the familiarity of what we conjured from a psyche ripe for exploitation. The tree with a face, the ice cream container whose cover having been removed, reveals the face of God. It is not that we need an excuse to be considered crazy, but our pointing to the sky and screaming “duck,” doesn’t help.
I too have observed foot prints on a newly mopped floor telling me I should run for president, alphabet soup that wants me to buy a ticket to Timbuktu, as it may be my last chance to do what I never considered doing, but I have resisted the impulses to go along. Not for any particular reason other than suggestion from soup and mopped floors have led me to believe God does speak to us in peculiar ways, and I’m an atheist.
I believe we are all searching for the revelation that will give validity to our lives that a utility bill can’t provide. That, and it is a distraction that gives us an opportunity to forget life is too serious, and our response to it is too placid. When we see a duck in the clouds we can’t help but think of snow flakes and no two being the same. That once in a life time experience, that although it has no merit or benefit, it does provide an opportunity to pretend we are six years old and our only concern is whether we have grown enough to get on the tilt-o-whirl this fair season.
Clouds are my drug of choice as they are the most abundant. Trying to find a face on a tree or a rock that teaches three dimensional Spanish, is time consuming, and often produces no results. Clouds, except for rare occasions, are ever present, and having little to do but threaten us from time to time, offer an opportunity that pulls us from our comatose state, turning a Monday morning into a Friday night, and reminds us we are not nearly as obtuse as we pretend to be.
I have decided to test my theory that we are all prone to seeing and hearing what we want to, and disregard the rest. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but I like it because it places the me in we, where it belongs, right out in front.
I headed for the beach where most people are routinely prone, and despite the sunglasses, have nowhere to look but up. I decided to forgo the glistening bodies of the potentially glamorous, as their visions are traditionally directed towards one another and not the undulating contortions of cumulus insightfulness I was looking for. But where to go?
Los Angeles, Kairo, New York City, Singapore, are all known for sweat shops. If you know nothing of sweat shops, know this, they are extremely hot and uncomfortable, thus the synonym, sweat shop. When uncomfortable we turn to distraction. Be it sex, drugs, or rock n’ roll, it alleviates a degree of discomfort, if even for a brief moment.
Sweat shops and cigarettes are synonymous for escape; they provide a reason to escape to the out of doors which has become the panacea for short term freedom, if only measured by the distance from the door. If you’ve never smoked, you probably don’t realize the ritual has little to do with anything, besides addiction of course, but provides the excuse we need to abandon our allegiance to our interior lives and chance the elements, while having to provide little in the way of bravery.
Sweat shops are the perfect control group. I watch as Marie, Sandra, and Homer step from the dim interior into the bright light of a new frontier. Their minds having been numbed by the monotonous sounds and smells of the products they produce, relish the new car smell the alley environment provides. Lighting up, that first inhalation sending insufficient amounts of oxygen to their brains, sets the stage for external stimulus to alter reality and offer a substitute that provides not only the distraction sought, but a momentary glimpse of what it would have been like if you’d followed your dream of being the painter your father forbade you to be.
As the smoke seeps from the nostrils, the head tips back, allowing the eyes to explode in fourth of July fashion upon the pillowed sky. “Look,” the first extended arm, finger, “a monkey eating a star fish.” “A banana eating a monkey.” “A star fish eating a banana while ignoring a monkey.”
I search the sky for inspiration. I cannot find a monkey, let alone a star fish or banana. “There,” another arm extends its hand, finger, pointing to the sky, “an airplane,” I relax.
When all else fails the reality of shattered dreams always finds a way to walk onto the stage. The Cumulus Giant shaking his staff at a star fish with the tattoo of a monkey, screams into the void we hope is infinity, “Back to work.”
The participants in my play slither back into the darkness leaving me to survey the clouds for messages from the beyond. I spend two, three, minutes surveying the now cloudless sky and realize God has wiped the slate clean and we must start again looking for the meaning we know exists, if only we can find it.
“Hey you! What the hell you doin here? This is private property; we don’t need no agitators comin round wrestling the sky into images of Mother Mary or Isabell Allende.”
I left feeling the basis for optimism, although claimed to be written in the stars, is everywhere I look. Abandoned phone booths, subway walls, the proverbs entombed on toilet walls throughout the world, all a part of someone’s reality. Being concerned with mindful constipation I prefer to find my own destiny, whether it be the gum stuck to my shoe, or the hymn on page 39 of “About Face,” the armed forces answer to dissociative recognition of reality.
We all look for reasons we exist, and I suggest from my experience with star fish and sweat shops, that the answers lie where you find them. I would suggest the clothes hamper or your dryers lint trap, a good place to start. Tell then Cumulus sent you.