Today, I had quite the most illuminating experience. I was eating a spoonful of peanut butter. This isn't new. I frequently eat PB right out of the jar, with a spoon. I actually prefer tastes to be simple and uncluttered. I like to be able to discern each individual component of something I'm eating. Its why my meals tend to be simple and minimally processed, with the exception of baked items which I covet and crave in a way that is inexplicable.
What struck me, while I was eating this PB, is this: I'd forgotten that eating is a sensual experience. Its amazing, the body's response to the introduction of any stimulus, but particularly something that offers such an incredibly varied sensation like food -- it engages your eyes, your tactile senses, smell, and taste. Sometimes, even hearing (for instance, crackling skillet or grill sounds). I don't know about anyone else, but I also have a variety of emotional responses to food, as well.
I'm particularly impacted by textures. I strongly dislike foods that I believe are unpleasant, texture-wise. For instance, the absorbency of dry bread in my mouth is unbearable. I cannot stand the way that it sucks away all moisture and then sticks to the roof of my mouth. Actually, just thinking of it engages my gag reflex. I do not like things that are perfectly smooth, like applesauce, or slimy, like very ripe banana. While I have no problem with the taste of any of those things, I will not eat them because I find the texture so abhorrent.
When I was a young woman, I wouldn't eat in front of other people. I remember explaining to the man that has since become my husband, that eating is an intimate experience and that I didn't feel comfortable in company, as a general rule. That situation lasted until my mid-20s. I'm not sure why I abandoned that particular point of view, but (like many other things) I think it went the way of being pushed aside because I was just too busy with children and house and work and more. So, like a zillion other innate knowledge that I once held, it was relegated into my big file cabinet called "Get Over It, Michele."
Interestingly, most of my 'new' experiences in my 40s are really just remembrances of things that I'd always known, but have forgotten, or ignored, over the last 20 or more years. While I hesitate to sound melodramatic, I think its a truth that I absolutely lost myself in my 20s and 30s. I forgot who and what was important to ME and went through the motions of making myself disappear while I fed my career, children, husband, education, community, and every other external aspect that I focused on. I'm not asking for pity in this area. Perhaps, those behaviors were necessary at the time. Regardless, it was MY choice to follow that path, and the results and consequences and benefits are mine, as well. Today, I'm a well-educated woman with a career (albeit, one I'm not sure I wish to continue), a respected reputation, two adult children raised, a long-term marriage, and a reasonable amount of 'stuff.'
I also have many lessons under my belt about what NOT to do. Unfortunately, it was necessary for me to learn many of those 'the hard way.' That's OK. I've made a multitude of mistakes, many of which I can still see the results of, today. Trying to learn from them and be grateful for the lessons is the way that I manage the fallout. Sometimes, there are amazing benefits as the results of difficult circumstances. Those are true gifts from the universe, I believe.
For today, my lesson learned: chew slowly, smell carefully, touch gently, see openly, and hear clearly. Engage in the glory of EVERY experience. The simplest are often the most memorable.
What will you savor, today? Who will you share it with?