Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Tactile World

I made a point of folding laundry and hand washing some sweaters while I listened to an On Being interview with artist Ann Hamilton--who often uses textiles in her work--because I find that it's altogether too easy for me to disconnect from the physical world. Especially during the winter, I disproportionately live in my head.

It's not only detrimental to my physical health, it's also hard on my emotional and spiritual health.

Unless, for some reason rooted deeply in my soul, water is involved (I like doing dishes!), necessary tasks that require working with my hands tend to feel like a burden, an irritation. One of my goals in life is to fundamentally shift my perspective, to not just stop gritting my teeth through those tasks, but to find transcendence.

When my friend Shelley went immediately from finishing a masters degree in art history to having twin daughters, I remember her talking about how satisfying it was to suddenly be immersed in a tactile world after living in such a cerebral one. (Now, by the way, with four children under the age of five, she works to maintain her sanity by dipping herself back into the cerebral world whenever she has the chance.)

Tactile immersion probably isn't the answer for me with everything else I have going on. But making a consistent, conscious effort to dip in might help. (And I'm sort of liking the mental image that creates. Because water.)

So I folded the laundry, then washed the sweaters in the sink. As I laid them out on towels, trying to arrange the stubborn things into their proper shapes, I stopped to breathe through my annoyance.

This will take practice.

1 comment:

Linda Ullmann said...

I believe one of the reason why I like teaching elementary school is the combination of the tactile world and the cerebral world. Third grade is the a big transitional age for students to move from the concrete to the abstract. Although it is interesting to note that the new common math core is putting more emphasize on the visual and practical reasoning skills in mathematics rather then forcing students into just following the steps of algorithms. I just read an interesting article about preschoolers and Kindergartners natural understanding of fractions, but not a mathematical understanding. Reading and reflecting on this article (cerebral), then applying and helping my students play with math manipulatives and drawings to develop their mathematical understanding of fractions (tactile) is a challenging task in many ways. I love reading your blog Margy. It always gives me something to think about. Even using tax dollars to improve public restrooms.