by Suzanne Reisler Litwin
If it’s actually food, it could possibly be CHOCOLATE. It could even be ICE CREAM. Perhaps any kind of CHEESE on deliciously fresh BREAD.
This is not actual ‘food’ that I am talking about. I’m referring to the food which fills your soul. Although food can do this in many ways, I’m dipping deeper down into the bowels of our soul and mind. The space that makes you breath deeper and dream.
There are some things that can take you there and help you recover from the grinds of daily living. Everyone has their way and means of getting there. I have many and some I would like to share with you. These are the simple pleasures which fill my soul with much needed beauty food.
Music. I love all kinds of music, be it classical, jazz, gospel, country, rock, popular, etc. Certain artists and songs can move me to tears easily. During the time I’m listening, I can be transported to a place, detached from this world, and dream. It’s almost like meditating to music. The music fills my body and I feel peace. I usually close my eyes so as to let my ears grab all the instruments as I try to identify them. I might even sleep, and or cry. Listening to Elvis Presley sing, “My Way” and “American Trilogy” does this to me. There are many other songs which hold this magic, but these two are consistent.
Exercise. No matter how I feel when I begin, I will always feel better when I have finished. No matter what the activity is, may it be skiing, running, walking, or yoga, it’s a guarantee I will feel better. Not only has my body exercised, but so has my mind. It clears itself of bothersome toxins and useless information. I feel less stress and the worries seemed to have evaporated along with my sweat. It’s as though I ran up to the top of the mountain and screamed the angers out of my body. I am cleansed, refreshed and exhausted. My soul is literally filled with the fruits from my labour.
Being Held. Hugs should be a daily requirement. The longer the hug, the better I feel. The stronger the hug, the much better I feel. I don’t always get a daily hug, but I am able to give one. My pet loves to give hugs and be hugged. He’s the most dependable with my traveling and busy family. However, when the opportunity arises, I go in for the big hug. I’m usually the one who doesn’t let go first. I might even hang on a little too long! Hugs fill my soul with warmth, peace and love. Holding hands, holding and hugging a person, a pet or even a tree feels soulful.
Art. Any appreciation of art is soulfully enriching. The other day I bought a dozen cupcakes. Although I love sweets, I only indulged in one – Blue Velvet. What I liked most about the cupcakes was the appreciation for the craftsmanship, the art of the preparation, the beauty of the food. Eating the cupcake was yummy, but the work put into creating each one and the precision of the display was soulful. I looked at them and thought to myself, how lovely each one is and how much detail was invested in their creation. I’ve attached a picture of the box of cupcakes. While driving home with them, my car was filled with a sweet smell that lasted right into the night. That filled me with joy, more food for my soul.
Art in any form be it dance, painting, cupcake creating, sculpture, or ceramic, when deeply appreciated fills the soul with pleasure. You might need to really force yourself to step out of your regular life and into the life of art to extract the soulfulness. It’s worth the journey to try.
The Ocean and Beach. This place gets me entirely. It fills up all my senses and invokes my emotions. I am so at peace at the beach. It doesn’t need to be summer and warm. Any beach at any time of year fills my soul. The sounds of the repetitive undulating waves rock me like a baby. The smell of the salty air seems to clear my sinuses and ear canals. The breeze gently caresses my face and sends my hair into confused curls. I can taste the salty water without even tasting it. It enters my mouth by just being in the presence of the sea. Seeing it all and deeply breathing in the moisture filled air is intoxicating. Once I have visited the ocean and beach, I am over soulfully filled as though I’ve eaten too much food after a family holiday dinner.
However, once I’ve left, I yearn to return and I promise myself I will sooner than later. I usually can’t and then remind myself that I have bottled it for when I need it most. Right now, I yearn for those bottled beach days…
Prose and Poetry. I have a deep appreciation for beautiful writing. Whether the writing is in the form of a book, a poem, an article, or even as song lyrics, it can fill my soul with beautiful words. I can read some words over and over again and never get bored of them. The best and most soulful words exist when someone else reads the beautiful words to me. That’s a pure joy.
As in the words of e.e.cummings:
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
Source: Complete Poems: 1904-1962 (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1991)
Last but not least and to never end this list of soulful pleasures is: Flowers.
Flowers seem to be so comforting. There are so many varieties, colors, shapes, and smells to choose from. They are a dash of happiness and beauty. Although temporary when fresh, they are for those who live in the moment, and I do. There’s nothing like walking through a market and smelling the freshness of flowers. The selection process is also fun. Do I want roses, gerberas, daisies, tulips, or orchids? What color do I want and how many? It’s so soulful to bring them into your home or to surprise someone with a bouquet of fresh flowers. Some will say that fresh flowers are wasteful as they don’t last very long.
I say to live in the moment, eat the chocolate, smell the fresh cut flowers, hug a friend, read romantic poetry, listen to the rapture of an orchestra, sway to the waves, appreciate the art form, and feel the depths of your exercised extended lungs! Feed yourself glorious food for your soul!
Tell me, what soul foods fill your soul?
Written in the soulful memory of Leonard Cohen
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education – Communications Department. She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.