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Learning to Smell

Creating perfume has opened up the world for me in some very unexpected ways. Essential to understanding perfume is learning materials, what they smell of and how they interact with other materials. You have to dive deep into these materials and understand the complexities of essential oils. To know which chemicals exist in each oil and how does each contribute to the aroma of the flower or spice. To learn the materials though you have to learn a more base skill. One that I have found useful in all areas of my life. To really understand what was going on I had to learn to smell. By that I mean, I knew how to smell, it is inherent. Just breathe through the nose, the smelling just sort of happens. It is the only sense we really can’t turn off. It happens with every breath we take. I had to learn how to smell actively. How to really focus on the sense happening in the moment. What is my nose feeling? What associations are being made? How is it making me feel? How can I describe this sensation in the most basic way? This type of experience requires a deep focus and presence that is truthfully, really damn hard. I have come to realize that most of my conditioning is in opposition to this type of deep focus. 

Fast paced multitasking feels like the most accurate way to describe the modality I have lived in for most of my life. Trying to quickly accomplish as many tasks as possible to move on to the next thing. This mode is (whether it succeeds or not) about efficiency and values output. Evaluating a scent has no finish, no end. It occurs in the moment and is all about how deeply you can explore that moment. Try to rush through and you simply skip over all the nuance, you miss the details and the textures. Since learning to smell I have been continually surprised by how ingrained rapid multitasking is in my whole life. It is hard work not only to go deep but just to slow down and focus on the present. The rivers of our lives are deep and wide and rich with sensations we miss when we skim the surface. Learn to slow down, learn to feel, listen and smell and expand the world of pleasure around you.

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