“Everyone needs reminders that the fact of their being on this earth is important and that each life changes everything.”~ Marge Kennedy.
A song has been playing in my mind this week, ever since I helped my grandson with his homework. Did you know that in Finland (so I’ve been told), children have shorter school days; do no homework; and have better educational results than in the US? I fear that we are teaching kids to look at learning as work, not adventure. But I digress. So he had to list five objects, and then name the sense he would use to learn more about that object. He has just started second grade, and is very interested in the natural world (and, of course, the video game Minecraft). In fact just about the first thing he told me when I picked him up from school was: “Did you know there’s going to be an apocalypse, Granny?” Which scared me for a moment, until I realized he was talking about the upcoming solar eclipse.
But I wasn’t sure if he had learned what his five senses were. He caught on very quickly, and we had fun thinking about whether we could smell a snake, or taste a furry cat. Ever since then the first few lines of John Denver’s song: “You fill up my senses” has been filling the corners of my mind. In fact it may have been called ‘Annie’s song’, but it seemed a pleasant reminder of how easy it is to forget that we have so many different ways of experiencing the world. Sometimes it is only when we visit a strange place that we see the beauty, smell the flowers and food, feel the warmth of sand between our toes, taste the succulence of a juicy, dripping mango, or listen to the beautiful harmonizing of an a mento band. Those who have experienced any degree of visual impairment (temporary or permanent), hearing loss, or even the loss of smell associated with having a bad cold have had the opportunity to truly appreciate the miracle that is our sensory system.
As I go from week to week I look out for things that spark the thread that becomes my weekly message. If I am lucky it appears early, and builds like a rolling ball, gathering stories and images along the way. Some weeks my inspiration comes late, worrying me that I have nothing to say. But this morning I awoke suddenly from a dream that I was visiting a friend in the hospital, a nurse who had suffered a stroke. As she was receiving her visitors, she was worrying that we had not had anything to eat. I chided her, telling her that she was forgetting who was the most important person she needed to care for. In fact I woke up actually saying the word: “Yourself!”
Despite the many self-help books, articles, postings on Facebook and elsewhere, that which seems obvious can be the most difficult to put into practice. We may be able to spout the words and give others the correct advice, yet be oblivious to the fact that we are not living it ourselves. Nurses in particular (who on the whole tend to suffer from codependency, that need to be needed) are excellent at teaching others how to take care of themselves; how important it is to make time to rest and replace our depleted energy stores. Women on the whole are brought up to put the needs of others first; to make sure everyone else is taken care of before they tend to themselves (by which time they are too tired to even think about self-care).
In trying to help my grandson identify how he used his senses, I realized that we often spend too much time inside our head. We worry about future possibles and past unfixables, the what-ifs and supposes; and don’t notice the real world that we are living in. We create problems where none exist. We read into the behavior of others, over analyze perceived mistreatments instead of giving the benefit of the doubt. It can be exhausting! How many disagreements arise from people misunderstanding the intentions of another? How much unhappiness stems from miscommunication? We are often very clever at dissecting the motivations of another, of diagnosing what their problem is while paying very little attention to our own missteps; our own contribution to a situation. And then it escalates.
We are living in a world of so much natural beauty. Human beings have amazing capacity for invention and innovation. Our nervous system powers our imagination; perceives the world; learns ways to cope with adversity; gives us words to describe our landscape and so much more goes on within our skin that we are not even aware of.
On this Friday morning I challenge you (and me) to pay attention to your senses and to give thanks for all the information they receive on your behalf every day. I challenge you to analyze yourself with as much energy as you dedicate to others, and see where you can let go of some of the pettiness that is preventing you from appreciating the important things of life. And I challenge you to check and see: are you taking care of the most important person in your life: yourself? If many others depend on you, it is even more crucial that you dedicate some time to self-care.
Have a wonderful weekend Family! Fill up your senses!