I was watching a TV show called Oswald with my three-old son this afternoon. Oswald is a children’s cartoon about an eternally optimistic, soft-spoken, blue and round octopus. In this particular episode, he first meets his happy-go-lucky friend Daisy the flower. She is busy catching leaves for her leaf collection. Then he meets his anal-retentive friend Henry the penguin. He is busy washing his pride-and-joy spoon collection. Oswald decides that he needs a collection too, but what? He eventually decides to collect clouds.
Well, the first problem in collecting clouds is that they are too high. Oswald first tries climbing a tree to no avail. Then he climbs a tall hill. After several attempts at jumping for a cloud, he manages to grab a part of one. When he opens his hands to examine his prize, the cloud dissolves and wisps away between his fingers tentacles.
Dejected, he lays down on the ground, looking up at the sky. His friends Daisy and Henry come by and lay down next to him. They begin to see shapes in the clouds. And then Oswald finally realizes that he has his perfect collection of clouds.
This Oswald episode is a wonderful allegory for friendship. Clouds, like friends, pass in and out of our lives. You can’t hold on to them. You can’t control them. You can’t possess them.
Clouds, like friends, are there to help protect us from the harshness of the sun (reality). Clouds, like friends, are there to help feed us with life giving rain (companionship). Every cloud, like every friend, has a silver lining.
And in the end, your life will have had the perfect collection of friends.