Dunk, marinate, drizzle, dress.
These are the words written on the bottle of olive oil standing on our red-painted kitchen shelves. They just caught my eye as I drank some water before making my way over to my laptop.
They caught my eye, and then they caught something else in me. I sounded the words silently in my head, ‘hearing’ the consonants, the rhythm, the opening and closing of the vowels. Dunk, marinate, drizzle, dress. They have a music to them, before you even consider their meaning. The physicality of dipping in a ripped off chunk of baguette, or patterning a bowl of risotto with golden glistening strands. The green aroma. The taste.
Most of us are saturated with words and images in our daily lives. This constant arrival of adverts, conversations, photos and gossip means that we don’t allow space for individual phenomena to resonate. Various inputs bleed into each other and take up space at the surface before we briskly move onto the next thing. We don’t taste things properly. We don’t observe the slow ripples that new ideas or landscapes make in us, blossoming outwards in at least three dimensions.
Of course, as Merton says, this also helps us to avoid looking at ourselves, paying attention to the parts of us that need attention. When we hear the music, we hear the dissonance as well as the sweet harmonies. The sound can be like fingernails on a chalkboard.
But what we’re missing! Four words on an unsexy plastic oil bottle can point us towards the beauty in the universe, if we allow them to speak to us. The line of dust on my fireplace. The high-pitched splish of washing-up water kissing the floor. The way my husband’s glasses have slid to the tip of his nose as he smiles at the light coming from his tablet.
Pause for a moment. Listen. What can you hear? What can you see? Swish it around in your ear, your eyes, your mouth. Is it music yet?
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