Coming to my senses
"Love is the poetry of the senses."
~ Honore de Balzac
Although the days pass quickly, there's a slower tempo to the hours and a spaciousness that I haven't known before. It feels like coming to shore after many months at sea. For the moment, I'm no longer being tossed about in the wind and waves. My feet are on solid ground. The sand is warm and I can feel the sunshine on my shoulders.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath, reflecting on the past year. Of course, there are stories about loss and grief and isolation - all of it real and almost overwhelming at times. But what happens if I let those stories drift away? What happens when I let myself come to my senses? What did I see, hear, taste, smell and feel in 2020?
Here are just a few of the images and perceptions that wash over me when I invite my senses to tell me where I've been...
Trees full of bright yellow flowers in the Spring. The Las Vegas strip uncharacteristically dark and empty in the early weeks of the pandemic shutdown. Mockingbirds calling for a mate, singing through the night. Holding my father's hand while family members stand vigil outside the window during his final hours. Walking through local parks after dark with my sweetheart's hand in mine. Homemade chia pudding with honey and blueberries. Relaxing in a jacuzzi under the stars with my daughters. Flickering candles and thin wisps of incense smoke swirling around sacred items on my altar.
Sunset walks on the beach, feeling both the warmth of the sun and the coolness of a light breeze on my skin. Cheese fries and hamburgers with pickles. Singing kirtan with a virtual community on Friday afternoons. A bugler playing "Taps" while an American flag is folded at my father's funeral. The taste of tequila in my grandmother's margaritas on Sunday afternoons. Watching my daughter create a psychedelic dance masterpiece for a global online audience. Hot showers with rose-scented soap. Honey jasmine oil rubbed into my wet skin. Flowing through postures on my yoga mat and feeling the stiffness in my body begin to melt.
Trees full of bright yellow leaves in the Fall. Ducks laughing at each other as they paddle under bridges and through reeds. Video images of loved ones laughing, dancing, singing, and celebrating my 50th birthday with me. Ocean waves carrying lilies and roses to my mother on the one year anniversary of her dying. Tears of grief blurring my vision. Watching a rocket launch into the night sky in Cape Canaveral. Tiny birds running back and forth to stay just out of reach of ocean waves. Hiking to a waterfall with my sister and her husband. Red cardinals on the deck and a bald eagle flying over the lake. Thanksgiving dinner for four with homemade blue cheese dressing and my sister's famous German chocolate cake.
The sounds of acoustic music, eggs sizzling in the cast-iron skillet, and coffee brewing on the stove in the mornings. Snow crunching under my hiking boots. A knock and my daughter's beautiful smile waiting on the other side of the door to surprise me. Tears of joy blurring my vision. Cold sand under my bare feet. My daughters and I shivering and taking photos of a brilliant orange sunset. My beloved pulling my body close to his and whispering in my ear, "You're safe here. This is your home." Hummingbirds hovering around the orange flowers along the wall in the backyard, reminding me that it's almost Springtime again.
My senses expand the story that my mind tells me. So, I keep coming back to them and asking them to show me the world. To show me what's real. To soften the edges of my story and bring in color and texture and sweetness and harmony.