An article by Sha'Tara, local writer and friend.
Life’s Changing Tastes
[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]
There is a joke I share with some of my customers and friends: “I have new glasses now, I can hear a lot better.” Bit of a snide remark directed at our worthless Workmen’s Compensation Rip-Off Corporation (that’s their official title actually) that judged my hearing loss was not their concern even though it resulted from several years of industrial noise abuse to the ears. No biggie: most of what passes for communication among Earthians, certainly including their modern “music” I’d much rather do without anyway. It may well be that silence is becoming golden once again.
But speaking of senses, I am noticing more and more the difference in “taste” I am experiencing now, compared to what I remember while growing up in the wide open spaces of northern Alberta – in the Peace River country. I remember a bitter-sweetness, a sharpness, to life’s taste in those days. I remember that although the taste didn’t linger long, it was constantly being renewed. I especially remember how Spring tasted. There was a harsh bruising freshness to it, like crushing the leaf of a herb to experience it’s inner fragrance. It took your breath away. It hurt. It made the heart thump and bleed. It renewed. It exuded hope and promised to make any dream come alive.
Well, I’ve lived my dreams by cutting some corners no doubt. I’ve spent my hope without going too heavily into debt. I don’t owe my past any reason to hate it, to feel any loss of it or any need to repeat it. We are even on that score. I’m somewhere else now, a place called “Here” actually. I’m not sure where that is, anymore than I was sure where my youthful Springs were, but I can taste it, like being led to a restaurant in a blindfold and having to order by tasting. You see, life does not let you see your choices, it doesn’t even have a menu you can read – with or without new glasses – you have to be open to tasting everything and to always keep in mind that some things taste better mixed with other things while some need to be savored individually.
For me, it’s not just crushed herbs anymore but a much more subtle taste on the mind’s palate. Less chewing, more sipping.
I suppose life taught me through unexpected changes how to blend the proffered ingredients to create a taste I like. Or at least feel comfortable with. I think I’ve come to a place with a sense of familiar about it, of knowing. At the same time, although I enjoy it immensely, it’s a taste I can easily let go of. And that’s what I like most about it, about the result of my life’s choices. They taught me the proper way to become detached – not from compassionate interaction, but from emotional attraction.
What does it mean, to taste life, or to experience life’s tastes? I say it means to be aware through two basic ways: to be a constant and keen observer of everything offered to the senses, and to indulge those experiences that make one grow to become what one chooses to be. Observing (tasting) allows one to choose one’s experiences rather than be their victim (having to eat what’s put before you) and that’s crucial to becoming an aware being. Once one is empowered to choose – no small achievement and one most people will never fully realize – one can then choose a change of nature. Yes, one can change one’s very nature, become what one chooses to be, not just remaining a sheeple clone or an imitator of someone admired, real or fictitious.
I’ve admired a very few people in my days, two of whom happened to be contemporaries for a time: Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. They weren’t perfect people, certainly. Gandhi abused his wife; Mother Teresa taught women to remain subservient according to her old traditional ways. Nevertheless I admired their unique commitment to their chosen way and becoming living proof that you don’t need money to make a difference in your life and the life of countless others, thus giving the lie to the modern belief in money and political power. In keeping with this, they could not be bought or corrupted by the “values” of modern vice. Had individuals looked to them for guidance and direction instead of to Hollywood and Wall Street this world would certainly be very different today. I always wanted to feel what life tasted like for them, and for others who also lived exemplary lives in other times, or in contemporary times though hidden from sensation-seeking media hounds. But no one can experience another’s life taste – that’s as individual as one’s DNA. What one must do is become aware of those peculiar changing tastes and that means a powerful resolve to battle against the universal “Jesus Saves,” “Coke” and “Big Mac” offerings of the Matrix.
My youthful tastes of life were necessary to giving spring to one stepping off into the unknown; into new experiences. My current tastes are necessary to give me the relaxed quiet needed for an honest analysis of who I was and what I have become; to know myself and to dream of an entirely new “me” based on what I have done in those past 60-plus years. I can “see” myself now and knowing what I know of what a human should be, I certainly could wallow in guilt for all the opportunities received meant to mold me into a better person which I blatantly refused to acknowledge and use. I could fall into despair thinking that it’s too late now to change; to become what I’ve always known I intended to be. Or, like so many of my peers I could simply throw myself on the mercy of the divine court and claim forgiveness on technicalities offered by religious faith.
But I refuse to do any of that.
I’ve had my thoughts and desires; I’ve written some of those thoughts, spoken others I’ve worked among and side-by-side with thousands of people, sometimes just for the mortgage but enough times because I desired whole-heartedly to make a good difference in another’s life. I know that I care enough now to start a new life from a much better springboard than my last one, thanks to having tasted life with discernment all the way through it, always knowing that I would be the one I would have to give account to and that would be the most intransigent judge I would ever have to deal with.
“The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only [by] a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be home.” [Wendell Berry - poet]