Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sense Meditation


Making Sense of it All

So much of simplicity is recognizing what is immediately available, savoring one’s surroundings rather than constantly seeking more. Some thoughts on the texture and connectedness that our senses contribute:


Sense Meditation

It was a crowded weekend: helping my mom and brother move into their rental, a night out with friends, church, errands, and finally, some acutely-craved time at home.

The moments that stand out when I reflect surprise me. This weekend, among other things, it was the softness of the well worn, slip covered sofa on my family’s new porch. I wished both my mom and brother good long naps out there, and also imagined one for myself as the spring sunlight filtered in through the screen. I thought of how Poppy, my mom’s father, loved to sleep on the screened porch’s settee when the weather cooperated. Good genes, this enthusiasm for sleep, fresh air, and their synergistic combination.

In church the story of Martha anointing Jesus’ feet caught my attention most. Not the theological considerations, but the perfume. I imagined its headiness, its incense-like, oily weight and how the scent must have lingered in Martha’s hair. The pastor filled in the scene, complete with the empty tomb of the recently risen Lazarus just out in the yard, and I swear I pictured a silver screen door looking out to a picnic table and a Biblical-era tomb. Smelled the perfume, saw through the screen door, and relished the sensual pathway that my mind carved toward the deeper story.

With Gavin, the sensation I noticed most was the tangible unknotting of my stomach when he finally yielded to my motherly ministrations. He had hurt his foot the day before, but insisted on limping along for most of the day, stubbornly refusing to sit and rest his legs. Our physical relief was in complete unison when he finally let me lift him into our shopping cart, when he leaned back and appreciated the rest.

What I’m thinking about today is how important physicality and sensuality is, and how it connects us to truths that go beyond the senses. I jotted down some favorite lyrics from a Chris Smither song, Small Revelations. The words reminded me that with all of this deep thought on what’s important, what practices create stress, how to achieve simplicity, one comforting thought is that our senses, so often ignored or taken for granted, are the immediately available link to some really meaningful stuff: passion is feeling in motion; compassion is standing still…hearing is letting it happen; to listen’s a work of will. I have to acknowledge my feelings and my passion before I contemplate compassion; I have to just plain hear before I can step up to really listen. Being here, just being here and taking it all in with my five senses, is often enough, but it has the added benefit of also getting me “there”, to the deeper places I want to go.

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At 3/27/2007 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an artist, I have a strong visual sense. After reading your essay, I realized that my other four senses are somewhat lacking. Especially the auditory sense, for some reason. This week, I'm going to make an effort to listen... Listen to music, to the voices of my family, to the rain that is falling, at this very moment, outside my window.


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