We are sensate creatures. We feel textures everyday: this firm keyboard, the spongy-soft of this office chair, the feel of a hard nail on my finger as I pick at it. Often, throughout any given day, I can remember what I saw, heard, or smelled. But rarely can I recall what it felt like to touch something. I haven’t trained my brain, perhaps, to think about my life in terms of texture.
But what if I did? Today I was trying to distract myself from my exercise monotony by watching videos on VH1. There’s a new Jack Johnson video that showcases him surfing in the ocean for the entire 3 minutes of the song. Watching him surf and dive through the waves made me recall my own visit to the shore: the feel of hot sun on my back, the wash of icy water over my feet as I neared the ocean, and the prickle of sand and crushed shells under my feet. I started to love this video for what it made me remember about the texture of the beach. (check it out below!)
Then I started to hear what he was singing about.
He sang, “cause you and your heart shouldn’t feel so far apart.”
I watched him surfing the waves and felt the memory of diving into the ocean. But I wondered why the lyrics in any way matched the video.
Then I knew. Jack Johnson (who directed the video), uses his hands and body to interface with this gorgeous ocean scene. The whole video makes you focus on his hands and skin. The water overtakes him; he smiles as he surfaces and touches the water with his hands. He looks straight at me and sings it again: “You and your heart shouldn’t feel so far apart.”
When I’m touching something and enjoying its texture, it helps bring my heart into alignment with me somehow. I’m happy when I’m enjoying a texture: holding a kitten, petting the soft velvet nose of the horse in the field down the street from my home, or squishing a red raspberry in my mouth. Living with flair means I take note of texture. There’s joy in touch.
As classes ended yesterday, a student gave me a hug (Darius Soler! You made the blog!), and another one patted my shoulder. It was a flairful thing to do, to touch me like that. Why aren’t I hugging people more, patting shoulders, linking arms? I wonder if Jack Johnson would tell me to put my hands out and touch this world like it’s the beautiful ocean that it is.