Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Leap of Faith on Leap Day: How to Evaluate Smells

The temple bell stops,

but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.
—Matsuo Bashō (1644—94)

For the past 29 days interesting patterns have appeared in double digit annotations for each day. Something new appears between 02 and 20 and today it ends with 022920, which also happens to be the hex code for a very dark cyan at 0.8% red, 16.1% green and 12.5% blue. Humans gravitate towards harmony and meaning, but in doing so may lose sight of the value of being present. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to evaluate smells.

The formula for getting better at evaluating smells is simple and counterintuitive. Smell beyond what’s there and what you think you can smell. This approach is true for every sense, but it’s especially true for smell because the human experience of smelling is hardwired to emotion and memory. Attachment to likes, dislikes, and ephemerality independent of vision inhibit the embodied experience of smelling. It’s really that simple. You need to get out of your own way.

Think of smell as a haiku that dissolves after you’ve read it. If you trust the experience, a distillation of meaning beyond words will take up residence within you. If you grasp at each word in an attempt to fix the experience in time you’ll lose the haiku's essence. This is not often articulated, but it’s the lived experience of people who follow their nose in life and for a living. Listen. Can you hear the sound coming out of the flowers?

You can see the dark cyan color in lower right side of the temple bell image.