Watching the Wind. Looking at Clouds

Watching the Wind. Looking at Clouds

If you’re always watching the wind or looking at clouds, you’ll never step outside your door. But with quiet practice, we can give generous attention to what truly matters.


I tried something new last night. Something I haven’t done for a very long time and building up to that momentous moment of history, I was hesitant.

It wasn’t skydiving, abseiling off a cliff, or anything super dangerous. It was something people do every day and survive and often thrive from the experience.

The problem I had leading up to this moment was that my mind was jumping into the bucket of fear-based thoughts.

  • what if this happens?
  • how will I handle that?
  • what if I do this, and then that happens, and then I respond by doing this, and it all turns to custard?

Do you do this?

I think it’s quite natural and normal to have hesitancy and fear when faced with new invitations.

I was watching the wind and looking at clouds.

Watching the wind.
Looking at clouds.

In the Bible, we find many little proverbs that offer us advice. Many of them have a meaning that would be easily be understood by the first listeners, but maybe strange to us because we live in a different time and culture.

Many of the first readers of these texts were people of the land, such as farmers.

Here is a proverb from the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes. 

He who keeps watching the wind will never sow;
he who keeps looking at the clouds will never reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4

In those days, when you went to sow seed for a crop of wheat or barley, the seed was thrown out by hand.

Wind would affect where the seed will land.

If one was to keep waiting for the wind to be in the perfect direction or there to be no wind at all, then you may not get it sown in time before the rains arrive. Rain that is needed for the seed to germinate.

Better to do something now than nothing at all.

The same applies to looking at clouds and reaping the harvest.

You want dry conditions to harvest your crop. If there is rain, it could ruin the crop.

So, in planning when to harvest, there is always a risk you have to take.

It’s a considered risk. The writer doesn’t say to not look at the clouds, it’s more about the continual looking and watching.

I was raised on a farm and have firsthand experienced of these truths.

I remember as a child watching my father looking at the newspaper weather map and listening to the forecast on the radio before he decided about when he would shear the sheep or harvest the hay crop.

He mostly got it right, but he took in many factors to decide what to do. In the end, I think it came down to a gut decision.

Do it now or lose out on the opportunity

Micrometer movement

What wind are you watching?

Are you looking for clouds on a cloudless day?

What are the things that seem to magnetize your attention away from doing what you know you need to?

It’s being captured by something that holds you back. That causes you to not just hesitate, put it’s like you have roots growing out from under your shoes into the soil beneath.

I would encourage you to take a millimeter step outside hesitancy house. For some, that might be too much. Instead, take a micrometer step.

And, if at all possible, don’t do it alone. Have someone to walk quietly beside you. They are there to help you not be distracted by puffs of wind or handfuls of cloud.

Take that first step
Jump in that puddle
Peek out your front door
Sow that seed ever so small


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Quotes to consider

  • Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. We have to try to cure our faults by attention and not by will. Simone Weil. 
  • Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death. Steven Pressfield,
  • Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
    ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
  • Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
    Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
    Walk beside me… just be my friend. Albert Camus
  • Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Who made the world?
    Who made the swan, and the black bear?
    Who made the grasshopper?
    This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
    the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
    who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
    who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
    Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
    Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass,
    how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

    The Summer Day —Mary Oliver

Questions to answer

  1. What holds you back from dipping a toe into your ‘one wild and precious life’?
  2. Can you identify what your ‘puff of wind’ or ‘handful of cloud’ might be that would cause you to shrink away?
  3. There is a difference between ‘can’t’ and won’t. What is that difference? Where do you defer?

Formation exercise

  • Note the wind and the clouds that cause you to hesitate in trying something new. Write those observations down in a journal and pick one small micrometer step against into it. You’re going to be ok 🙂

Further reading

Change Always Asks You to Walk on Water

What Type of Ball are You?

L.O.F.O – Look Out For Opportunities


Barry Pearman

Photo by Avery Evans on Unsplash


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