Imagine that it’s a beautiful summer day, and you’re looking up at huge, billowy clouds in the bright blue sky.
Sometimes we gaze at clouds and imagine that they look like a dragon or a horse or a person’s face. Sometimes they are just puffy and don’t seem to have any particular shape. But whatever that cloud is, it’s a perfect cloud– perfect just as it is in this moment.
As humans, we have the ability to look up at the cloud and think it looks beautiful. We have the power to imagine shapes in the cloud. We also have the power to imagine that the cloud is totally wrong. That it should be a different shape, or that it should look more like a dragon when it’s busy looking like a horse.
We don’t do this, of course. Such a thing would be silly. Everyone knows that clouds are perfect just the way they are, and though we can enjoy them, it would be a foolish waste of time to lie down on the green grass and get angry at each passing cloud because it wasn’t such-and-such a shape.
Our lives are just like these clouds. Other people are just like these clouds. You are just like these clouds. Just perfectly perfect, right now. No changes required. But we believe that humans can always improve, and so we spend our entire lives fighting and struggling and suffering because we’re sure that the cloud would be better if it looked different. The result is that we lie in the green grass of life, looking up at the sky, yelling and screaming and pulling our hair out because every cloud we see is wrong. If only the cloud could see that it would be better if it stretched a little longer! If only other people could see that they’d be better if they did this or that! If only I could get my act together and fix everything so that I could actually be happy!
But nothing’s wrong. Our actions are as silly as the person yelling at the clouds. All of the problems are objects of our own creation, and have nothing to do with the actual situation at hand.
All of our human endeavors – our efforts to get more money, our daily yoga practice, our counseling sessions, our meditation – all of these endeavors are exactly the same. They are all like looking up at a cloud and thinking “That cloud would be a better cloud if it looked more like a dragon.”
This is what we busy our lives with. All of our energy goes toward trying to make the clouds better. Their perfection is obscured by the noise of our own shouting and the agitation of our own minds. We might change the cloud (as was described in Richard Bach’s book Illusions), but we haven’t made it better or worse. And we might change our lives, but after all our great efforts to enact change, we’ll always find that our life isn’t any better – we’ve merely re-arranged things so that we get more pleasure than pain, or more peace than agitation — at least for a while. This might sound better, but when we have the ability to discover the perfection of life, just like we can see the perfection of each cloud – well, the truth is that no amount of pleasure or peace will even come close to the perfection of seeing things just as they are.
This seemingly magical ability to revel in every moment of your life is simple to discover. It’s much like the feeling of lying back and looking up at the billowing clouds. We don’t have to expend effort to enjoy them. We don’t have to use special techniques. We don’t have to change our perspective. We simply have to lay back and see the clouds just as they are. This is the only thing in life that matters at all. And it’s the only thing that can create any real change. We’re free to yell and scream at the clouds for our entire lives – it’s so common that one might call it ‘human nature’ or ‘the meaning of life’. We think it’s natural and normal. Often it’s not until we’re totally exhausted that we finally give up the fight and see that the clouds were perfectly fine all along. That’s when we discover the timeless place of no regret, no worry, no desire to fix what’s already perfectly fine. And that’s when we discover the tremendous beauty and wonder that’s been there all along.