Growing up we are taught that most of us are born with five general senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
Some neurologists argue that we have as many as 21. Either way, we can find common ground by acknowledging that our environment stimulates us in one way or another but sometimes, how much we let these external stimuli affect us is up to us.
Throughout the day, we can't help but be bombarded with sounds.
We don't get to pick and choose if we hear an ambulance wailing down the street or if we overhear someone hailing a cab as we walk down the sidewalk.
However, we do tend to filter what we choose to see or look at. Often, we look right through objects or people that are right in front of us because we are focused on something else or our mind has wandered somewhere else.
Lately, I've been hooked on noticing color.
Just like with our ears and sounds, I can't help but for my eyes to become bombarded with the presence of color that surrounds me at any given moment.
Whether the moment is when I lay eyes on a meal I just ordered or when I catch a side glimpse of the bouquet of flowers that appear next to the fruit section at the local Trader Joes, I find it amazing how nature provides us with the most expansive color palette we could ever imagine.
One of my favorite places to find the presence of rich color is in salads.
Bizarre? Yes. Nonsensical? No.
And here's why...
I find that there's something intoxicating about the brilliant, balloon-bursting symphony of colors that a fresh, backyard-garden-born salad holds. The way the fire engine gleam of the taut, plump, cherry tomatoes shines even under the dullest of lights.
Then there's the matted, fibrous way the barbie-lipstick pink of a watermelon radish looks as it is seen speckled like a bleeding watercolor until it reaches the outer cilantro-hued edge of the crisp and peppery vegetable.
The waxy-looking exterior of the rich, leafy green kale could pass as an imposter it looks so perfect. The kale embodies the remarkable way that things of nature can be so perfectly symmetrical and precise.
It's too picturesque to eat. The glistening, bursting-with-juice-at-the-seams, prune-purple beefsteak tomato begins to sweat, pouring out the balanced acidic flavor with each melting piece of flaky, gritty sea salt that the chef has sprinkled onto the fruit.
Like the essence of a sunset, the colors within this salad are so bright and bountiful that you find yourself attempting, through some sort of osmosis, to take in all the energy and excitement of the colors while you think that nature, in fact, has provided more excitement within the colorful bowl in front of you than any 100 count Crayola pack ever could.
Perhaps if you're like me, your excitement even exceeds that of the Crayola pack with the built-in sharpener.
The visual intensity of this salad is almost intrusive in a way because when you look at such a "normal" thing (such as a salad) with a certain lens of fascination and amazement, your senses become all at once stimulated and awakened.
And as you take the first bite of this electrifying meal, your taste buds begin to experience this dance of color all over again, yet in an entirely new way.
Salads don't have to be boring and neither do you. Challenge yourself to consciously and purposefully take notice of what surrounds you.