I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow

It’s clouds’ illusions I recall

I really don’t know clouds at all

-Joni Mitchell

            Clouds have a very deep and significant quality. They are completely scalable in size. That means that whether the cloud is very small or very large or anything in between, it could look the same. That’s not true of most things on our planet.

            You can tell from a model of an elephant that it’s a large animal. The heavy legs and the massive torso are structured that way. You can tell that a feather is small and light. A 500-pound feather makes no sense. Despite the old sci-fi movies, an elephant-sized fly can’t exist in our gravity. The fly would collapse under its own weight, and you can forget about the “fly” part. A structure that size that could fly would have to have heavily reinforced wings and feet and an extremely powerful energy source to drive all that weight—wait, it’s an airplane! Even different sized birds and airplanes look their size. Think hummingbird and eagle, or ultralight and airliner.

            Almost everything that exists on earth has a look that identifies its approximate size without the need for perspective.

            A cloud is different. If you see a picture of a cloud against an empty sky, you may assume some dimension, but that’s an illusion. It could be 8 feet long or 1000 feet long. You can’t tell what size it is. It would look the same, and every part of a cloud can exist alone as another whole cloud.

            If you tear a cloud to pieces somehow, each part will float away complete in itself, no matter how large or how small, until it evaporates or rains away. As it does so, getting smaller and smaller, each version of itself is still a complete and recognizable cloud.

            I try to live my life that way, so that each day, each decision I make, is a model for how I want my whole life to be. I think that works. I think that a life in time is perfectly scalable from a moment to a lifetime. If so, we are who we are because of all the little decisions we make every day. That’s wonderful. It means that if starting one day, we choose to change how we make those little decisions, we change our whole life. We really do change who we are.

            Perhaps this is the most valuable interpretation of the Hermetic principle, “as above, so below” but in its inverted form, “as below, so above”. If our life is lead, we can change it to gold in this simple way.


Hugh Moffatt
Nashville, Tennessee
February 4, 2012