The Little Shapeless Cloud

by Bendu on Monday, 17 November 2008 Comments
One morning, a small cloud woke up in the sky – and, for him, this particular morning was the first morning of the world. It was a day oscillating between the blue and the grey. Shapes and colors were indistinct and ever changing. The little cloud gave his vaporous flesh a pinch, trying to figure out what he was doing there and where the vague, light mass that, as he understood it, delineated his share of existence was starting and ending. His quest did not teach him anything specific. He was at pain to assert his own outlines, to separate his body from the great Whole that had given birth to the ephemeral particles gathered within him. Nor was he able to clearly distinguish his thoughts, to isolate a flux of consciousness that could truly be called his own and legitimately separated from the universal strain of feelings, energy and motions.

- Ah!” thought the little cloud (and this was the first spark of self-awareness that came to him in the morning of his world appearance), who is this ‘I’ that is awakening within me, supposing the confused, primitive question that this shapeless being is presently formulating does refer to an ‘I’, to ‘myself’ - I, this barely existing creature that the surrounding sentient and non-sentient bodies now identify as a little shapeless cloud? When I look at these majestic formations of clouds that navigate high on the sky, much higher than I will ever rise – and I do not even dare to glance at the celestial bodies -, I do sense within them the certainty of existence, and their assertiveness is shaping the way I am seeing them: I cannot doubt that they are ‘for real’ and, as such, have been shaped for an all-encompassing purpose, that their course is not purely accidental but concurs to the accomplishment of the overall order of things, an order that they might not fully comprehend but of which they are decidedly a most meaningful part. Whereas I am not even distinguishable from the heavens that surround me, I (I?) who have no precise beginning nor end, whose only sparks of thought and consciousness are only directed towards questioning the reality of my own being, and who will very soon not even be around anymore for worrying about the fact that I, most probably, am just a hiccup in the unfolding of cosmic events. ”

It will not escape the attention of the alert reader that, for a being that was questioning the reality of his own existence, our little shapeless cloud was showing a remarkable capacity of reasoning, and this at the earliest stage of his ephemeral life. But so engrossed was he in the formulation of his existential doubts that it did not occur to him that these very doubts might constitute a solid proof not only of his existence but of a definite meaning attached to his appearance in this world, whatever the life span that was allotted to him. His train of thought might actually have led him in this direction if his destiny had not decided otherwise. Towards the evening, the weather became greyer and more uncertain. Soon, the cloud felt that he was starting to disintegrate: drops of rain were leaving his shapeless body and slowly falling towards the earth. There was a public park lying under the cloud – a park where, in the morning, the author of this story had been pensively contemplating the little cloud -, and the rain was gently touching the grass and the leaves on the bank of the pond sleeping in a remote corner of the park. Some of the majestic cumuli that our new-born philosopher had so much admired during the day were releasing large, quiet drops into the pond, creating gentle ripples and music. This is at the time he felt himself falling into final oblivion that the little shapeless cloud experienced his awakening.

- Ah!” said he again (for he had already proven to be a philosopher prone to adopt the exclamatory and sometimes even grandiose mode), now that I am losing the shade of existence that has been mine I do not doubt anymore its reality. I am, I am the rain which is falling from my shapeless body, and these droplets that were tending towards their final annihilation were at the same time my very being and its negation. No wonder I spent my short life wondering about the ‘I’ that was or was not living it! I am now feeling the joy and certainty of my purposeful existence in the moment of its disappearance. May the water that is now reaching the earth and will return towards the sky so as to shape my countless descendants forever continue the majestic course that her continuous self-negation allows her to beget and nurture! ”

And the little shapeless cloud happily closed the eyes that he had opened in such anguish a few hours before.

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