PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
Why I’ ve joined The Wander Society and The Cloud Appreciation Society.
If your goal is to waste time—in a meaningful, life-changing kind of way—I have two societies that might interest you. Both embrace the thinking that in this age of distraction, there’s an art to setting aside time for the unknown and the unexpected. The Wander Society is the more mysterious of the two. It’s guided by the Latin phrase “Solvitur ambulando,” which means “It is solved by walking,” as well as Walt Whitman’s naturalist poetry in Leaves of Grass. Its founders are anonymous, its start date is fuzzy and all you have to do to become a member is declare yourself one. Keri Smith penned The Wander Society after spotting clues about the secretive society in notations found in a book at a used bookstore, pamphlets posted to a tree in Brooklyn and Walt Whitman graffiti quotes on the subway. If you’re in need of some wandering #inspo, check out thewandersociety.tumblr.com for periodically posted “assignments designed to creatively disrupt everyday life.” The other group I joined is The Cloud Appreciation Society (cloudappreciationsociety.org). My favourite line from its manifesto is “We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.” The society has become a bit more structured (and by “structured” I mean it sends out a “cloud a day” email to members) than it was when Brit Gavin Pretor-Pinney dreamed up the idea in 2004. He made up the name as a joke to entice literary-conference-goers to a lecture he was giving on his new fascination with clouds. So many people inquired about joining the then non-existent organization that he created one. He has since published The Cloudspotter’s Guide and The Cloud Collector’s Handbook and has also created a few quirky products, like a 1950s-style cardboard information wheel that identifies 20 cloud formations. But becoming a cloud expert isn’t my goal—it’s about seeing, sharing and imagining what Joni Mitchell poetically described as “ice-cream castles in the air.”