The Cloud Palace

Icon credits: Ilsur Aptukov and Anna Sher via the Noun Project

Icon credits: Ilsur Aptukov and Anna Sher via the Noun Project

by Rose Burt

When I’m going through new experiences, or trying to figure out how to process something, sometimes I start to think of things in metaphors. When we started An Estuary a little more than a year ago, one of these metaphors sprang into my head: The Cloud Palace.

Here’s the setup. You know how cartoon characters sometimes run off a cliff? They keep up momentum until they look down, when they fall. Imagine that, but, instead of looking down and falling, you just keep running, until you reach some clouds, and then you start building a castle. The castle exists because you are building it, and it continues to float through sheer force of will and belief.

I saw a tshirt the other day at the Cotton Bureau that had a lovely hand lettered slogan on it: Stop wishing and start doing (I later also found it on etsy). It sparked something, another level of realization about what this metaphor of the cloud palace means to me. The cloud palace is magical, and sustained by force of will, but it only exists because we build it. Every day, we build it. We don’t just wish for a palace, or for better professional learning tools, or a better way to talk about the things we care about, we build them, every day. Even when it’s hard, even when we don’t know how it’s going to work out, even when people tell us we can’t.

When I picture the cloud palace now, it’s more than just clouds. It has color, and it looks like it’s sitting on a floating island. It has some substance, some momentum, beyond those initial months of vapor and sweat and absolute belief and sacrifice.

About a year ago, we ran off a cliff, onto thin air, with little more than smarts and will and an idea for a company. We never looked down, only forward. And we are building the place we want to work, the tools we want to use, the future we want to see.

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