We can be an optimistic and poetic bunch sometimes it seems. And I’m not just talking about the poets.
I’ve been thinking about the sky today. You know, that vast grey waterfall over our heads these days.
If you ask most people what colour the sky is, the answer that will come back most often is that it is blue.
We all know that it isn’t actually blue itself it just appears blue because of what type of light it reflects into our eyes but, as this isn’t a scientific journal, I won’t say any more on the nature of light or how our eyes perceive colour.
The point I want to make is that blue is our best estimate; the most positive answer. We think of sunny days when we associate blue skies with happiness, maybe we’re all poets in our souls really. But the skies can’t always be that colour, we’re not always happy.
So why do most people say that the sky is blue? Even on a day like yesterday.
We obviously don’t base our answer on frequency, as roughly half of our day the sky is dark, with points of yellowy light if we’re lucky.
The rest of the time it is filled with clouds that reflect grey, white, red, mauve, orange and every other colour you can imagine. Let’s not forget that when there’s a rainbow – which by its very nature encompasses the entire spectrum – that is the sky too.
I suppose one reason behind the colour confusion is because we don’t all agree what the sky is.
We assume that when we talk about the sky we just mean the space between things, the other stuff, not things. Why is this?
If I started including the birds and planes as part of the content of the sky I would probably be told I was being silly and that they don’t count. But why not? As far as we can see, there is no such thing as nothing. When we look at the sky we tell ourselves we are looking through something, through air and moisture.
If we are looking through the sky at the darkness of space and beyond then the sky is really everything that exists in a certain direction. Black holes, solar flares, nebulae, things that we can’t imagine and our eyes probably couldn’t take in. How amazing is that?
So, next time someone asks you what colour the sky is, tell them whatever you want. If we’re going to be positive, let’s really use our imaginations.
WILL CONWAY is a poet whose first collection, “Tastes of Ink”, is available from Lazy Gramophone: http://www.lazygramophone.com/williamconway/
You can read his sublime tweets at http://twitter.com/tastesofink, and you can hear him read his poetry all over London, and at a few other festivals besides.