Written on May 8th, 2008:
“I’ve been fighting with my senses my whole life. All of the human senses are connected to the past. Taste, touch, sight, sound, smell—at any given moment any of these five senses can stir an extremely specific and detailed memory. Even if someone isn’t cognitively aware of such a memory, the senses awaken feelings… suspicions… gut reactions… intuition.
My senses, whether subtly or not, remind me of the past every day. So much of physical sensation, for me, has been associated with fear, anxiety, pain, shame, etc. I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to deal with this in the last five months, but there are still days when I desperately wish there was no such thing as physical sensation. And that’s really too bad. I’ve been thinking about this a lot today. I really need to strengthen my relationship with my senses, and start focusing on the good things they can tell me, instead of always only feeling the bad.
I love the way it smells outside just after it rains. It’s fresh, and clean, and new. It is the smell of a world rejuvenated. It is the smell of renewed life. It evokes a sense of freedom.
I sat on my deck, this evening, after the rain had almost entirely subsided. The world was perfectly silver—not grey, but silver. And I thought, “I can actually think out here. I can actually breathe out here.” It’s moments like these where the past is the farthest thing from my mind, and where I can simply, and completely, embrace the present. This is what I mean by freedom.
I don’t know that I’ve ever said this… or ever even considered saying this before today. But I am infinitely grateful for my senses. I am grateful that I can sit on my deck at dusk, feel the warmth of the blanket I’ve wrapped myself in, see the glimmer of the wet grass under the moonlight, hear water gently dripping from trees and rooftops, smell the fresh, post-rainfall air, and practically taste the freedom.
Fresh, clean, new. Rejuvenation. Renewal. Freedom. These are beautiful words, fantastic feelings, and exquisite sensations. And from now on, I’m going to start looking for these in the things I see, and hear, and taste, and smell… and feel. These are the beautiful simplicities of life. And I refuse to let them be forever polluted by the past.”
Re-reading these words that I wrote almost nine years ago suddenly puts so much into perspective for me. It is still instinctual for me, at times, to connect my senses to the past. But this is not nearly as negative of an experience for me as it was when I was first processing these thoughts back in 2008.
In fact, as I look back on how far I have come in the past nine years, I am so thankful for this moment of revelation that I experienced out on the deck on that peaceful spring evening. It seems that, subconsciously, I have taken that moment with me and continued to learn from it, even to this very day. As I write these words, I am once again sitting outside under the sunlight, enjoying the way my senses have been awakened by the outdoors.
I’m not an overly outdoorsy person in general, but for some reason, being outside always helps me clear my mind and gain focus. Like I wrote about on Sunday, being outside just seems to wake up my senses, and this is something I have learned to truly value over the years.
I mean, have you ever just sat outside, closed your eyes, and listened? Do it sometime. Just listen… and then listen more deeply. There is always another sound to be heard that you didn’t catch at first. Something happening further away in the distance that you wouldn’t hear if you weren’t listening for it.
And then there are the colors. Colors always seem more alive when you are outside in the sunshine. I am a very visual person, so maybe this is one of the reasons that being outside gives me a sense of calm satisfaction.
It’s interesting for me to think about the ways that I have come to be so in tune with my senses, when I spent so many years of my life fighting with them. I have truly learned to embrace them, to harness them, and learn from them. I have learned to let them ground me in the moment, rather than only dragging up the past. I love my senses, and I am so thankful that I didn’t give up on them all those years ago.
What is your relationship like with your senses?