Having just spent a week in reading deprivation, I hope that some of the tiny changes you are noticing will solidify into bold new patterns. We are certainly newly sensitized, and more aware of the power of words. For instance, as we return to the world of written words, we may notice that what once seemed to be smart, sassy and cynical no longer feels clever, but strikes us, perhaps, as just sad. That’s a pretty big insight, isn’t it?
Now that our week of this unique form of time out is over, how can we avoid falling back into our old habits? How can we find time for our creativity? One possibility is to deliberately make time to explore each of our senses. I am thinking that the more we can be mindful of the speed and seduction of these artificial word-worlds and remember to be in our physical bodies, the more we can experience time in sane way.
So, yesterday, I recommended some ways to play with your gift of hearing. Today, let’s revel in the fabulous miracle of taste.
Author Danny Gregory laments that taste is a victim of speed. “Despite all of our endless choices shipped from around the world, in spite of crammed supermarket aisles and encyclopedic restaurant menus, we opt for the familiar – for old standby recipes, fast food, and artificial flavors.
“We eat on the run or we multitask at the dinner table so food becomes merely a routine way of stilling an urge or a sublimation of some other need, rather than a focused and mindful pleasure.”
So just for today (or for longer if you wish), start giving your taste buds some new, exciting experiences. Pick something off the menu you have never eaten before. Better yet, Danny urges us, cook it yourself.
Try an ethnic food that is strange and different. Learn where it comes from, and why the people of that place eat as they do.
Another fun exercise is to take a trip down nostalgia lane. “Re-visit food you ate as a kid – Spaghettios, Froot Loops, Bazooka gum, baby food. What does the taste trigger? Proust managed to squeeze seven volumes of recollections out of the taste of a single little cookie.”
Or you might set up a “wine tasting” kind of experiment using four different types of, say, orange sodas, toothpastes, bottled water, baked beans… let your imagination go wild. Then, try to describe the different flavors as if you were discussing fine wine: “This doughnut starts with a piquant little burst of sprinkles, only to mellow into a sweet creamy filling, leaving a dense, satiating finish on the palate.” You get the idea.
Spend the day noticing everything you put in your mouth: your pen, the spoon, the toothbrush, the potato chips. Think about how things taste that you maybe haven’t tasted in a very long time: number two pencil erasers, honeysuckle nectar, Milk of Magnesia, accidental drips of baby shampoo.
Celebrate your exquisite taste today. Tomorrow, we’ll play with its close cousin, smell.