Are you enjoying all four of your senses?
(Pause for head scratching and the inevitable question: What the hell does that have to do with inspiring me???)
Let me ask again. Do you enjoy all of your senses?
This may seem unrelated to inspiration especially because I am careful not to talk about eating a lot in my inspirations but I think it actually is pretty important. We are given four senses which function like four pieces of a puzzle. When even one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete—we cannot enjoy the whole picture, we are always focused on what is missing. So let’s go through the senses and do a little inventory, shall we?
Let’s start with the most obvious one for us—taste. Our tastes change after surgery but also our feelings about our “rights to taste” change. There is this pervasive myth that “food is for fuel, not for enjoyment” and that we aren’t meant to enjoy the taste of food. We worry when we enjoy the taste of something too much—is it a trigger? Can I control it? What if I can’t? The problem is that we have spent our whole lives liking certain things a little too much and not liking some things enough.
When we pay attention to all our senses, we don’t put such a stress on the sense of taste, I find. But aside from that, it is ok to enjoy the sense of taste. It is ok to have preferential tastes. That does not automatically equal danger. You don’t have to be afraid of taste, but at the same time you should recognize the balance of all senses so that you don’t overdo taste. It is the one sense where if you “overdo” it, you can very easily negate it.
Touch. We seem to have a hard time with this one but it is so important. Humans are built to be touched—it’s scientifically proven. We like to touch things and we like to be touched. We enjoy texture—the roughness of a wool sweater versus the softness of mohair, the squishiness of a lump of clay versus the smoothness of a piece of wood, the slickness of a rain coated car versus the stubbliness of a husband’s cheek.
My favorite touch sensation is the initial shock of getting into a hot bath. The feeling like I am almost burning but at the same time every muscle in my body is melting down out of its tense clamps and I feel fluid. Recognizing your sense of touch is especially important after surgery, I think, as we learn our new bodies. The scale may present a skewed picture but our bodies tell the tale perfectly. New bones to discover, newly developed muscles to marvel at. Every morning I make a point of patting around my pelvic area just to feel the bones. It pleases me to know that they can be felt so easily.
Smell. This one is one, on the other hand, that I find big folks latch onto. I would venture to guess that the obese community in the U.S. is among the largest sectors of people who buy aromatic products—body lotions, essential oils, etc. I hear lots of big folks saying “if I can’t look my best, I can always smell my best!” It is also an open defiance to the myth that fat people smell bad.
In life as well as in food the sense of smell is important. If you don’t believe me, try eating your dinner with a clothespin over your nose—I guarantee you won’t enjoy it as much. My point here is that smell and taste work together very closely. So you can get as much enjoyment from the aroma of something as from the taste of it. And you can get enjoyment from smells that are not food based. A flower, a nice cologne, freshly laundered sheets—and those inevitable smells that take you to another place and time.
Sight. Ah sight…we rely on this all day every day (for those of us who have sight), however we rarely use this sense to the fullness of its abilities. After a while life tends to be the wallpaper against which we live our lives. When was the last time you marveled at the sunset and really contemplated the colors of it? Or the last time you picked a wild flower because you thought it was unique. When is the last time you examined the grain in a fine piece of wood (there’s a picture in there, you know…) or inspected your toes and fingers. Too often life’s wonders slip by our vision. Take time to really see the world around you—what it is made of and what makes it beautiful. And look at yourself. Really look at yourself. The more you look the more you will see who you really are instead of who you used to be.
I’ve given enough assignments for this inspiration, so that is all! Have a great week.
Edited to add:
My good friend Megan pointed out to me that I missed a sense! Perhaps because it is the one I struggle with the most—hearing. I have had bad hearing for a long time and often cannot hear things at certain decibel levels. But what a gift sound is! I love music. I love to sing (my children don’t like it when I sing but that’s a whole other blog post). I love the quiet of the early morning and in Baltimore it is not spring until the first car drives slow down the street with the bass thumping. I especially love the sound of my babies sleeping. So my apologies for the omission! Go out and make beautiful noises!