The sky has its moods, just as we do, and it displays those moods with a range that is infinite in its variety. It moves through hot and cold, dry and wet, wild and calm, bland and dazzling, expansive and close, soothing and scary, and everything in between, creating a whole new world with each and every moment. And never the same way twice.
Its moods affect our own, perhaps more than any other part of our natural environment. It is ever-present, surrounding us as we move beneath it and go about our daily lives. We feel its air flow by us, and we call it wind.
We breathe it in and out of our bodies, if we are to continue living. If we were fish, the sky would be our ocean.
Maybe that’s why Chicken Little was so frightened of the sky falling.
Imagine the sea that gives us life suddenly draining away into nothingness, leaving us gasping in the vacuum of space. No wonder we pay so much attention! Even the nightly news carries a special segment devoted to the sky: the weather report. The moods of the Earth’s atmosphere are just that important in our lives.
Chicken Little was worrying with no need, as we all know from the story. There’s little chance of the sky falling, or draining away, or suddenly disappearing. But that doesn’t matter. The sky, and the weather coursing through it, good and “bad”, affect our feelings probably more than any of us realize. It can affect us as it did Chicken Little, leave us running in terror and confusion for some kind of shelter before the march of an oncoming storm; or it can make our eyes and our mouths open wide in stupefied wonder at one of its majestic spectacles. Sometimes it can do both in the space of fifteen minutes.
You don’t need a weatherman to know
Most of us have a window in our bedroom which gives a glimpse of the sky the moment we awaken. Does that affect our moods? Well, I know it does mine, and I didn’t realize how much until I once closed the blinds for a couple of days. All of a sudden I didn’t know what to expect, and it was a little unsettling. How should I feel about the day? I missed the setting of the mood, and the whole day was off from there.
Overcast close skies aren’t necessarily gloomy and depressing, and clear sunny skies not necessarily cheery. Every sky has it’s own contribution to the mood of our days, it’s own special colors, shapes and textures moving through light and shadow, and evoking its own unique feelings. Every sky is familiar, similar to every other sky we’ve ever seen, but always and ever brand new . Like the thoughtfully assembled backdrop for a compelling stage play, it gives meaning by supporting and furthering everything that already is going on in our lives.
The vastness of the dome of sky is never more obvious than when we can see the individual layers of sky filled up with clouds. Sunrises and sunsets are wonderful partly because of their colors, but also because the low light throws throws the clouds into relief, making the three-dimensional structure of the sky more apparent to the eye. Far from making us feel small and insignificant, if we realize we too are included in this spectacle, it can lift us up with it, as if we and sky were one, and both of us happily dancing in the stratosphere. We have a vast room in which to grow.
Those in the heart of the busy, congested city, can take a virtual trip to the uncluttered countryside, just by climbing up on the roof to witness all the space up above us and be captivated by the ongoing drama of the Earth’s daily weather.
It’s all in the mind, you know
I used to experience dark, overcast, rainy days as gloomy. I could feel my mood sink when morning skies were heavy, and the time spent on such a day was wasted, just waiting for good weather to return. When the weathermen lamented the rain and apologized for forecasting foul weather, I believed him.
But a trip to Alaska in the wilds around Juneau changed my perspective. After a few weeks in the dark, overcast, rainy weather that persists there for weeks on end, I began to appreciate the close, intimate feel of the land, the beauty of mist and fog mixed with rain that became like a blanket of privacy over everything, intimate, soothing, protective. When I returned to Kansas City I missed that feeling, and actually looked forward to the days when such awful weather would come our way.
Storms and violent events frighten us. Fog makes us feel safe, protected, enveloped in warm love. Lightning and thunder stir our blood, make us ready for adventure. Monotonous overcast skies, featureless and dull, can instead be like repeating a mantra, calming the soul and direct our attention to our inner selves.
A spring thaw after a long, raw and sore winter melts our frozen hearts, and shoots life into our spirit in expectation of the quickening of spring.
Autumn colors of butterscotch, caramel and apple form a palette that readies our bodies for the long soft sleep ahead. Crisp, bittersweet, delicious fall is a harvest of wisdom that sets all of summer’s learnings into our bones.
Winter’s solace is sleep, and dreams, and the sowing of the seed in the earth, where it can rest in self-contemplation, waiting for itself to flourish.
Summer’s heat of creativity and adventure gives us room and time to explore our world, and skies form the warm canopy over our fun activities.
But no matter the mood of the skies, they influence our own moods in ways we’re probably not aware of, from subtle to obvious, from mundane to sometimes quite surprising.
So watching the sky is a great way to acknowledge the backdrop of your life — and to discover and enhance your own mood as well.
And images of the sky are a great way to share the best of those feelings with those you love.