We were watching a Hawaiian hula demonstration and a woman next to us was narrating for those around her. It was ironic in a way, since we had just come from the Portland Chinese Garden where we had been called to: Listen to the fragrance. It was from the poetry of Charles Wu and invited visitors to use all of their sense to experience the beauty of the garden.
Listen to the fragrance…I watched the hula dancer convey her story through gentle movements and rhythm. We are so trained to only interpret our own language symbols that it is difficult to ascribe meaning to movements in the same way we would to spoken or written words. Language, though, can be silent; something that those using the American Sign language know.
As well… I think experiencing language takes a real presence that is often missing in our high decibel, media oriented world. It demands that we think three, or even four, dimensionally; surround ourselves with the volume of
life and emotions.
Take, for example, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, which I just finished reading. Immersed in the story I could feel the thick, wet air in the second arena… or hear the chirping of the deadly insects. Through great storytelling we know the feelings that go along with these sensory inputs, so that not only do we read the words, we smell the scent of fear and anguish that goes with that chirping or feel the rapid beating of the heart giving the dense air a pulse of its own. We may even sense our world narrow to the pinpoint at the end of our arrow, whether we have ever shot from a bow or not.
This is when we know great writing. So that the archetype of arms crossed over our body in hula smells like warmth and home… like love.