Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fragrance of Life

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. ~~Rumi

     I have only smelled a rose once in my lifetime, briefly. I have never smelled the rain in the air. I have never smelled fresh cut grass or spring flowers. I have never smelled homemade bread. I have never smelled the salt water of my precious Gulf. I have never smelled the pine trees on my grandparent’s land nor the Red Woods as I stood diminished in my awe. I have never smelled the clean air of the Rockies nor the Smokies. I have never smelled perfume, after shave, incense nor candles. Quite simply, I have never been lost in an aroma or fragrance.
    My nose has never worked – it captures neither fragrances nor the air I breathe. It has one function – to hold my glasses on my face so I can see. If you have ever had a serious cold where you could not breathe through your nose, food tasted bland and you could not smell anything, then you have experienced my everyday world. I do not inhale life. I have learned to taste life. Salt and sugar are the primary tastes that I experience. One seasons and preserves the other sweetens and comforts.
    Breath enters my body exclusively through my mouth. Cover my mouth, and my voice is not only silenced but I cannot breathe. Cover my mouth, or have a dentist put their hand in my mouth and I feel as if I am suffocating. To breathe is the same as tasting life. I taste life because the fragrances and odors that help to define its color and texture are my very breath. To breathe, to be alive, for me, is to taste life’s seasonings and sweetness that preserve and comfort.
    Not being able to inhale the fragrances of life has its advantages, for example, skunks. Although you’ll just have to trust me, as bad as skunks may smell, their taste is horrible. Not being able to inhale the fragrances of life has yet another very serious disadvantage. For example, there was the time I did not realize my apartment will filling up with natural gas. I could not smell the gas. I did, however, think my parakeet was acting odd. If friends had not dropped by and opened the door and windows, I’m not sure I would be here today.
    As with much of life, everything has its good and bad, its advantages and disadvantages and its limitations and endless possibilities. And though I am extremely grateful for the ability to taste life, I am limited to salt and chocolate. I know there must be more in between. There are days, like today, when I recall fondly a brief moment when I smelled a rose and wonder would I appreciate that fragrance as much as I do if it were part of my everyday life? I do not know.
    As I pause on the path I journey, I inhale and taste what is and exhale the breath of what might be. I recall a partial line from one of Rumi’s poems, “… until my soul takes on his fragrance.” A slow smile breaks across my face. I know that fragrance. It is the fragrance of hope, acceptance, love, laughter, roses and thorns, storms and rainbows, unmasked and vulnerable. I take a deep breath, remember a rose and inhale life.