We live in difficult times. I never imagined that I would experience such a complicated situation due to a global health crisis. Epidemics and pandemics seemed, for years, a bundle of historical accounts that hinted at times when ignorance and lack of development were, surely, factors that drove past health disasters. However, we are in the middle of the 21st century at what we think is the peak of human development and, look at us.
Many people are facing mandatory quarantines and panic over the spread of the so-called COVID19 virus. Lootings ahead, businesses that still don’t know if they will survive in these circumstances and a financial sector that has even less of a clue of what to do. There are those of us who have been blessed to prepare ourselves as best we could to face this crisis, but there are many who have not. For my part, I am at home, under mandatory lockdown.
Difficulties aside, this confinement has prompted me to find ways to stay productive and to stimulate my intellect. Painting is one of my passions, but I try to keep a measured rhythm since, if I use all my painting supplies, I will not have anything to paint with after some time. Another passion, perfumery, which is what this blog is about, has allowed me to put into practice three exercises that, I confess, have kept me entertained and which I have also enjoyed. These are my three suggestions for the fragrance enthusiast under lockdown:
Train Your Nose:
Unless you suffer from anosmia you entire existence will be fulfilled with scents. Most things have a smell, pungent or faint, likeable or disagreeable, but almost no aroma is simple. We learn to recognize odors quite easily, but finding ways to describe them is a different endeavor which often relies on comparison: carnations smell like cloves, some cosmetics smell like violets and wax, honey is sweet but can also smell like urine, and so on.
Training your nose on a daily basis is tremendously easy; all you need is stuff to smell and some minutes to appreciate it. For instance, I have a big bag of cardamom pods in my kitchen. I took a couple and smelled them. I paid attention to what I sensed and then I tried to describe what I experienced. I have found that cardamom smells somewhat cold, camphorous, and a bit citrusy but not like bergamot, more like grapefruit. Aha! It makes sense. Both cardamom and grapefruit share an underlying nuance of sweat. That’s a funny resemblance, isn’t it?
Another way to train your nose is to smell the fragrances you already have and compare them. Take, for example, one that you know that has plenty of patchouli, and then take another one and compare them. Try to find the similarities and focus on them. Patchouli can smell like chocolate, so there is a big chance you will find it in gourmand compositions. Try it with other components. Can you recognize similarities? Sooner than later you will be able to identify notes and accords.
Appreciate What You Have:
This is an appropriate time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Make a parenthesis on your day, open your perfume cabinet and take a look at what you have. Clean them, organize the bottles, open their caps, and sniff them. Check how the fragrances have matured, remember why you liked them or, in case you never did or you forgot why you did it in the first place, try it on. Possibly, with this abundance of time, you will have the opportunity to either fall in love with it all over again or appreciate a scent you never understood and that hence has been neglected for that reason.
I’m sure plenty of you have treasures hiding inside a drawer. I do, and I have noticed that, perhaps, I do not need to own every perfume in existence. Also, upon further inspection, I have concluded that over the years, I have refined my tastes and certainly developed a clearer idea of what fragrances I like and, even more importantly, why I like them. There is something very soothing about finding clarity and achieving some finesse.
Enjoy Your Perfumes:
Is there any fragrance you don’t wear very often because it is “too strong” to fit into your work environment? Spray it on. Is it because it is too much of a skin scent and you deem it “boringly soft”? Use it. You love it but never seem to find the right occasion for it? Time to put it on. You dislike it for whatever reason? Press that atomizer.
We often avoid wearing things because we are unsure of how the people around us will react to them, because we don’t find enough interest or simply because we feel we will run out of them but truth is, nobody will enjoy your perfumes more than yourself when you wear them. So, give yourself the luxury of wearing them. Why else would you have those bottles? Olfactory pleasures can be tremendously uplifting.
I hope that these suggestions will inspire you to find ways to exercise your mind and sharpen your senses, keeping yourself entertained in the process. Also, more importantly, to find reasons to be grateful for what you have and appreciate the things you have acquired or achieved, perhaps extrapolating that sentiment to other aspects of your life. Small things that seem inconsequential can have a great and positive effect on the psyche.
There is the chance to find something positive even in hard times. Whenever you see a chance, take it. Share your experience as well, it may help other individuals. Navigating through agitated times can be overwhelming, but I am sure we will sniff our way out of crisis.