Bringing Art and Beauty into our Personal Surroundings
by Julie Cohn
We are so fortunate to have senses that inspire in us feelings about each other and our surroundings. Even though we have more than five senses, including a sense of balance, pain and the passing of time, among others, the following five senses have the ability to give us pleasure: eyesight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.
All too often we can associate these five senses with difficulty in our lives: our neighbor may be too loud, we don’t like looking at gory details on the news, we balk at the taste of food we ordered, the burner is too hot to the touch, or the refinery is producing a foul smell in the air.
But what if we step back and notice how we find pleasure in our lives in the midst of a pandemic, a difficult boss, a messy house, or a list of other things that make our lives challenging? Let’s face it, life is sometimes about survival, no matter how high on the hog we live. Our world is moving at a fast pace and it can be very hard to keep up with it. I find that the small steps toward pleasure help to make the hard times easier to bear. The more small pleasures I embrace, the less reactive I become to every day challenges.
How do we see the world? How do we use our vision? Clearly, having vision enables us to do a lot of practical things, like drive a car, cook a meal, view a dangerous situation and move out of the way to avoid it. It is imperative that we see practically to stay out of harms way. However, many of us find sustenance and pleasure admiring the beauty and inhaling the perfume of nature. We enjoy looking at each other’s expressions, doting over our babies and pets.
For some of us, making our house look like a welcoming home with a personality that really fits us, is a bit of a struggle. We are either dealing with clutter, we have no time because we are working so hard, we don’t yet have the resources to pay for the things that we like, or we don’t realize that what we live with in our environment can affect our moods greatly. There are so many small things that offer me visual pleasure: sunflowers in a vase; a clean kitchen floor; a small patterned bright orange ceramic bowl to hold my rings, a shiny pillow.
As I love to make art, I show a lot of it in our home. I also relish collecting art from others whose styles and themes speak to me. Some of our wall hangings remind me of trips we’ve taken, some paintings are from friends who have passed. The artwork in our home often has to do with a memory or a dream. Michael and I try to live in the present, however the art we have chosen gives us a sense of our place in time - how we have flourished in the past and how we can still dream for a bright future. Each one of these choices holds meaning, and sometimes I just sit back and find other kinds of meanings in the artwork as I gaze from a distance. Whether or not I take the time to honor each work of art in the way one honors in prayer before a meal, the art is here to balance my life, create a mood to cheer me up or calm me down. In the least, our visual choices in our home sustain us, and at the most, they are gentle beings, inviting us to stay authentic to ourselves and give our sight vision so we can see opportunities, what is behind our mind’s eye.