My son ordered a copy of Rivers and Tides for me for Father's Day. For those of you not familiar with this remarkable film, it's a documentary of the environmental artwork of Andy Goldsworthy.
Every time I see this film or look at a book of his work, there is a palpable increase in my perception and appreciation of the physical world.
Especially watching this film---wherein the viewer has an intimate look at the artist's creative process and connection with nature---I am reminded of how much of the sensual world we take for granted. I think of the lake water in which I swam today---did I really fully experience its silkiness on my skin? Did I notice the difference between the air and the water as I rose from the lake? I know I was conscious of the heat and the sun, but was I conscious as the watermelon melted in my mouth, a few drops dripping down my fingers as I raised it to my mouth?
Sometimes I sit and watch Sparkey the Dog, his sensitive nose quivering as he sniffs the air for subtle changes of which I am completely ignorant. He sits and listens intently, using his nose ears and whiskers to detect changes and shifts in our surroundings. I want to bring that quality of awareness into my life more often---at home, at work, at rest. Sitting with a patient, can I detect subtle odors or body position changes that can clue me into something important that I might otherwise miss? Are there changes in tone of voice or timbre that I should listen for more closely? Do I use my sense of touch enough in the clinical setting? How can my senses better serve me? How can I more fully utilize them?
As Mary was falling asleep beside me a few moments ago, I ran my fingernails very gently through a patch of sunburn on her back, tickling her to sleep. As my fingers glided across her reddened skin, the light pressure of my fingers on her skin left a lovely trail of blanching white which lasted only a split-second before turning red again. Do try this at home---it's like drawing on skin, only it's an ephemeral mark which will delight your eye only momentarily.
Thank you to Andy Goldsworthy for the inspiration, and I will watch portions of that delicious DVD whenever I need to reconnect with the wonders of the physical world.