Greater than 2 minutes
I was lying on the shore, looking at the clouds and trying to find familiar images in the chaotic fluffs of evaporated water. The last three or four all looked like… birds. Apparently, birdness and skyness were so closely interwoven in my brain’s fabric that my mind followed the easy path of seeing a bird in anything that appeared in the sky.
Suddenly I knew the first thing a translator can learn from the clouds: As valuable as your experience and the context are, they’ll often be tricking you into reading the source text the way you expect it to be read. It takes deliberate effort to unexpect, and to see something new, something that widens the repertoire of possibilities for all your future work.
As I was thinking this, I kept looking at the bird, and realized that it wasn’t a bird anymore: It was moving, expanding, dissociating — playing a part in some weird but fascinating motion picture. This made me understand the second thing a translator can learn from clouds: You’ll never get the whole meaning of a text by looking at static sentences. Only by proofreading your translation in its entirety will you be able to see if it plays well in its motion and continuous transformation.
With all these thoughts I missed how the clouds had completely covered the sun, and out of nowhere had come the wind. The drop in temperature caused by the loss of sunlight reduced the air pressure (P*V~T, remember?), welcoming hungry air masses to join the feast.
And that was the third thing I learned from clouds: Sometimes, jobs stop coming, or a client leaves a bad review of your service, or something else makes you feel like the sun no longer shines. Then, it’s just a matter of physics that the pressure will drop. This depression is normal, and natural, and nothing to be ashamed of.
But it is also a physical fact — one that could be the fourth thing to learn from clouds, but which I prefer to put together with the previous one — it is a physical fact that, sooner or later, clouds will dissolve, and the sun will come out, and the future will no longer seem doom.
More often than not, it will seem bright, and sunny, and full of beautiful metaphors, where clouds are just an interesting detail to draw on your mind’s painting, and not a piece of grey canvas to paint it on.
And what have you learned today?
Originally posted on Ab HoC.