As I wrote earlier last month, in the beginning of October I found myself on a tour of a selection of amazing cities in Italy, France, and England including Milan, Verona, Paris, and London.
The trip was so eventful that it became a bit of a blur. But, there was one common thread the came through during our experiences in each country- engagement of the senses. Touch, taste, feel, see, smell- we were constantly being stimulated in one of these five ways.
In Paris, we stopped for tea at the famous Ladurre patisserie had a sampling of desserts that tasted like heaven in confectionery form. In Verona, we visited an exquisite cathedral with amazing visuals that indicated the countless eras it had weathered. There were layers and layers of history that gave the place a hallowed air totally separate from the ostensible religious function of the cathedral. I remember being struck by a display of small votives of all different colors. Lit up, they had a stunning effect that caused me to stop and stare in wonder.
Another unique part of our European tour was the emphasis placed on physical connection. Upon meeting, everyone kisses each other on the cheek, clasping arms or hands in a sign of welcome. In America, we have this concept of “personal space” that can't be invaded. When you venture outside of America, it’s clear that this idea is a cultural construct. So much of life revolves around touch and physical interaction in the cities we visited. There is an inexplicable satisfaction that comes from embrace. It dispels loneliness and creates meaningful connections between people.
Finally, I’d like to talk about music. Sometimes, when my 10 year-old Francesca has her music playing, I’ll walk into her room and we’ll just start to dance for no reason. We often forget about the immense release and unadulterated joy that comes from just letting go and dancing. The word “unadulterated” says it all! When we’re adults, we block things out or consider certain activities off limits to us.
But here’s the truth: one is never “too old” to enjoy life and through our eyes, ears, nose mouths, hands, and body.
Engage your senses!