The Savoring

I‘m a slow learner. Things taught to me in my youth I’m just now achieving and understanding. Case in point, The Savoring.

I call it “The Savoring” because there are no words in English that correctly convey its entirety. The closest word in English is actually borrowed from fictional Martian; Grok.

In Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, a human, Valentine Michael Smith, is raised by Martians. He’s taught their ways, their beliefs, their culture, their language, their philosophy, their science, their their and one such their their is Grokking, the ability to so completely understand something that you become one with it.

Or the ability to become one with something and thus completely understand it.

Anyway, several human languages have equivalents, English doesn’t and thus I use “The Savoring” because it’s the closest I can get to what I was taught.


Taste an apple pie. Really taste it. Most people (unless they’re culinarians or gastronomists) don’t keep the apple pie in their mouths long enough to truly taste it. Take a moment and taste the difference in the apples, taste what goes into the crust. What kind of sugar is used? Did eggs go into the crust? Do you recognize that one part of what English labels “taste” is also texture, as in “how does the food feel in my mouth?” as in hard, soft, malleable, thick, thin, and so on? We experience a thick potato chip differently from how we experience a thick steak and lots of science goes into deciding how thick (or thin) is too thick (or thin) of mass-produced food products.

But back to that slice of apple pie. Take a moment and catalogue all the different kinds of sensations the apple pie is causing you to experience. Appreciate the apple pie as fully and completely as you can.

It’s not easy (for me, anyway), and it takes time. I can do it and I have to remember to do it. It’s like Intention taken to the next level. I’ll often catch myself in mid-chew or with whatever I’m eating halfway to my mouth and then stop, pause, close my eyes, breathe, center, lower, and then start to experience the totality of the apple pie (or whatever).

Can you taste the energy of the cook in what you’re eating? Can you savor their effort? Can you appreciate what they did?

Here’s a trick for you; Savor something prepared for you by someone who loves you truly, deeply, and dearly, then savor something prepared in a restaurant kitchen. They may both be delicious and can you taste the different kinds of love that go into each, the former love for you, the latter love for their craft?

Do this often enough and you’ll never experience an unpleasant taste again.

More Advanced

I use taste above because taste is really taste and smell and they’re primitive sensory systems that are more closely tied to our primitive brains than sight and hearing. Sight and hearing such as humans have came along long after evolution had been turning us from two amino acids accidentally bumping into each other in a hot chemical broth into things that moved with a purpose.

You can savor someone’s touch. Or the earth’s touch. Or the moon’s pull. Think I’m crazy? Have you never felt the sun on your back or arms or shoulders? Have you never felt the pull of the ocean or mountains on your soul? Or lakes or rivers? Or iceflows? It’s only a matter of what you’re willing to experience versus what you’ve been trained (via language and culture) to experience.

Our sense of touch is even more primitive than our senses of smell and taste, and touch uses the largest sensory organ we have; our skin. Most people can be blindfolded and tell the difference between the touch of a loved one and a stranger. That difference has to do with the energy of the person touching. Savoring through touch and hearing is part of the Blinds’ way of life.

You can savor sounds. Susan is often amused and sometimes annoyed when I play the same piece of music several times in one sitting. I have a musical background and can isolate the different instruments being played, savoring and appreciating each musician’s contribution to the whole. I was born blind and through my Grandfather’s teaching, the trainings of others he brought me to, and my other senses developing to take up the gap, I also feel the music both internally and externally via its vibrations. I can, as I often describe, bathe in the sounds (and often do when no one’s around).

All of this requires intention and forethought (at least for me). I’m not at the stage where I automatically savor my experiences as I’m having them. For example, I stopped typing the previous sentence between “automatically” and “savor” because I realized I wasn’t savoring the experience of communicating this to you.

I can savor the experience. I need to learn how to savor it with you so you will savor it, too. As I wrote above, I’m a slow learner. Perhaps because I savor my learnings?

Other Cultures

Savoring is well understood in aboriginal cultures because it is a way of survival. Aboriginal hunters surveying the prairie, plain, ocean, or sky take their time. They pull everything in and savor it until they’re confident they fully and completely understand it. The phrase often used (regardless of culture or language) translates to “I become a part of it” (also the title of a worthy read, I Become Part of It: Sacred Dimensions in Native American Life) . Study and work with Aboriginals and you’ll be amazed at the details they remember, and the amount of information they recall and describe vividly. Watch their eyes and how they shift their position, change their balance, how their breathing changes and you realize they’re going back to the original event they’re recalling (even if it was several generations back), experiencing and savoring it all over again. Spend time with Native Apache and you’ll learn the word Agodzaahi. One aspect of Agodzaahi is to start and end each story with a recollection of where the story took place, who was there, and what the day was like, …


Indigenes develop powerful memories, amazing mental disciplines, because it allows them to savor their experiences. Nowadays we tap messages to ourselves on our mobiles, take pictures, make recordings, and then forget we’ve tapped, taken, or made them. I’m not sure “unlimited” storage space is a good thing. I have very few pictures in my wallet because there’s not a lot of space for pictures, therefore each picture in my wallet has vast meaning to me.

Ever spent minutes waiting for someone to swipe through images on their mobile to get the one image they want to show you? There’s also scientific research indicating we’re losing the ability to remember details. It’ll be interesting to learn how this affects courtroom testimony. I guess it’s a good thing there are so many web-enabled cameras now.

Being able to quickly get something off the internet inhibits our ability to savor, me thinks. Savoring takes time and the internet – at least as most people use it now – is not about taking one’s time to savor experiences. Part of our brain’s reward mechanism relies on our ability to savor (granted, in a limited form of what I call “The Savoring”) an experience. When we search for something in the wild, while driving, in our homes, our desks, our closets, in a building, a town, a city, the countryside, on a trip, or a brick&mortar store and find it, our brain gives us an Attaboy! or Attagirl! with all sorts of neuropeptides, enzymes, and other assorted chemicals. Those neurojuices cause us to congratulate ourselves and lock whatever we found along with where we found it in long-term memory.

Ever savor fast food? Savoring is anthemic to the very concept of fast food. Spend time in a culture that is largely gustatory or olfactory in its language and you have a start at savoring because they’re been taught at an early age to appreciate sensory experience (note, not hedonistic experience). Spend time in a culture that is largely kinesthetic, proprioceptive, tactile, or vestibular in its language and you have a start at savoring physical experience.

Or you can slow yourself down, center, and allow yourself the luxury of fully understanding and appreciating your experience.

The next time you’re talking with someone, savor what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, where the conversation’s taking place, et cetera, and you’ll be able to remember it with crystal clarity. Savor your life and you’ll fulfill the saying, “Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.”

Want an experience that will truly knock your socks off every time?

The next time you’re with your lover, take the time to savor the experience (yes, I understand that sometimes the excitement and possible discovery of a quickie can be jubilant and worth savoring in itself. I’m old(er), not dead!). The next time you’re with someone you love, take time to appreciate the entirety of the experience (including the things that irritate you, if any, because you’ll miss those irritations when they’re gone).

Savor your time with yourself, with others, with everything around you, with the Universe in and of itself.

Take a moment to savor your lifetime. No one else has ever had the experiences you’ve had in just the way you’ve had them. Your first taste of chocolate, your first kiss, your first smell of wet dog fur, the first time you heard a kitten purr, the first time you saw the ocean or the mountains; these are all your firsts, nobody else’s. When you go, they’re gone. Savor them so you can share them while there’s still time.

The first step?



Joseph Carrabis
Joseph Carrabis
Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist and holds patents covering mathematics, anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. He served as Senior Research Fellow and Board Advisor to the Society for New Communications Research and The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future; Editorial Board Member on the Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy; Advisory Board Member to the Center for Multicultural Science; Director of Predictive Analytics, Center for Adaptive Solutions; served on the UN/NYAS Scientists Without Borders program; and was selected as an International Ambassador for Psychological Science in 2010. He created a technology in his basement that's in use in over 120 countries. Now he spends his time writing fiction based on his experiences.

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