Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Challenge: What is Important?

Twenty million. Two followed by seven zeros- that's how many people live in the city that I call Home. Walking is an occupation fraught with danger- the pavements that have not been claimed either by the buildings that line them, or by vendors, sport potholes that can swallow up a grown man. Pedestrians are forced to share road-space with vehicles, animals and numerous construction projects. Walking in Bombay is not for the faint at heart, and it is never something undertaken without purpose.

When Crazy Jane issued her Friday Challenge # 29, I am sure she did not intend me to risk life and limb. But I needed to clear my head, and since that is what she promised her Friday Challenge would do, I decided to risk it. I put on my sneakers, and went for a walk. To "not think of what you have to, should, might, or can't do. No doing at all. Just a walk to remind yourself of the most important thing." I had no idea what that most important thing would be, but I was sure I would discover it during the course of the walk.

I dodged traffic, I sidestepped people, I nearly stepped on the tail of a sleeping dog, but realisation of "what is  important" remained elusive. I found my way to the flower market. There were flowers of every hue and colour. Orchids and lilies. Marigolds and hibiscus. Roses and chrysanthemums. An overdose of colours and textures. Of shapes and sizes.

It was all very beautiful, but something was wrong.

Was it the blue of the orchids, which any child would tell you came not out of Nature but out of a bottle? Was it because traditional mango leaves didn't quite go with the exotic orchids? Was it because the purist in me disapproved of the strings of thermocol beads strung around the floral garlands?

I tried to remember Crazy Jane's instructions - "breathe in and out and notice the colours, the smells, the sounds and...". I was on my third deep breath when realisation dawned- there was an overdose of colours, but there there no smells and no sounds. I could not taste and I was not allowed to touch. It was only colours, and shapes and the indication of textures.

All of a sudden, I realised "What. Is. Important." It is important that you engage all the senses in whatever you do. It is not enough if you are only seeing, or tasting, or hearing, or touching- you need to do all of them.

But what is perhaps most important is that while doing it, you have to feel. Because without feeling, even the most varied sensory experience is meaningless.

See, smell, touch, hear, feel. And let each of them, overtake your life.

A couple of days back, Debra: She who Seeks passed on the Prolific Blogger Award to me. Debra describes her blog as 'Random Thoughts on Random Subjects with No Real Purpose in Mind'. She may choose to say that, but her's is one of the most organised blogs around. Ever so often she picks a theme and analyses it to the smallest detail. Right now, she is dealing with Labyrinths, and if there is something about them that you always wanted to know, stop by her blog before you look anywhere else.

This is an Award I have received before, but that doesn't mean I can't pass it on a second time. This Award goes out to all the participants of NaBloWriMo 2010. Whether you have posted every day, or not, this Award is for you for having the courage to start.


Margot Kinberg said...

Rayna - What a wonderful post! There is a lot of research that suggests that we know and learn in different ways. The more ways in which we experience life, the more and better we remember. That's one reason that effective teachers, for instance, do not just teach by lecture. They have students experience what they are learning with hand-on activities. I mean, how can a person learn what freshly-baked bread is really like if that person cannot smell that incredible aroma....

Mason Canyon said...

A very inspiring post. I not only learned a bit about the city you call home, but also a reminder that we should appreciate our senses.

Thoughts in Progress

slommler said...

That is some challenge and for you, very successful! Love the picture and the thought that there was no smell is so sad! It makes me wonder what all these elaborate floral creations are for?

Dyche Designs said...

What an amazing post, felt like I was on the walk with you.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Ha ha, Rayna, you got me! It's true, my blog is not quite as "random" as it pretends to be!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You did learn something from your walk then. And you survived - very important!

Ellen aka Ella said...

I loved this post; Being reminded to
fully overload our senses or allow them all to partake in our moments of life's revolving door. Wonderful post!!! Congrats on your award and surviving. It sounds like a marathon to walk in a congested city! Someday I hope you get to walk, somewhere peaceful and truly can stroll~ xXx

Clarissa Draper said...

Very interesting. I didn't know there were that many people in Bombay. Yeah, it tough to go on a walk and take in the sights and smells when you have to share the pavement with so many. Great post.


Arlee Bird said...

Very well-written piece, Rayna. It's so true that it's really more than just "stopping to smell the roses"--if we neglect our other senses and don't get in touch with our inner being, then we might as well just stayed home and watched television.

Nice thoughts here.

Tossing It Out

Danette said...

I have a quote generator which I like but the other day's I thought about posting on my blog permanently. It fits your today though: "The purpose of life is a life of purpose." ~Robert Byrne
I try to blog if not with a theme or topic then with the purpose to create something beautiful or something that creates something or that reminds people that there are other issues to think about. I don't always succeed. My life intrudes. But the effort is there.
Very nice post!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Margot- so true. My son's school does a lot of that, and truly, when they make kids experience something, they retain it much longer.

@ Mason- true. We tend to take our senses for granted. But a lot of things can only be experienced with multiple senses.

@ SueAnn- they are offerings to various gods. And I think gods can't smell.

@ Dyche- thank you.

@ Debra- you are anything but random.

@ Alex- yes, I did, and yes, I did ;-)

@ Ellen- your comment is more beautiful than my post. Thank you.

@ Clarissa- near impossible. You can share in the drama, but discovering yourself is difficult.

@ Arlee- thank you. And yes, life is meant to be a multi-sensory experience.

@ Danette- that is a beautiful quote. And I quite understand what you mean as the purpose of your blog. It may not be easily describable, but I know what it is (as do you).


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