A fully functional human being has five primary senses: sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell. All of us who have those in good working order rarely if ever contemplate life without them. But, this morning I asked myself “if you had to give up one, which would you choose?”
On the surface that seems like a fairly simple question, but as I began to contemplate it I found it took some time to come up with an answer.
What did appear quickly was the resounding thought “I would not give up being able to see”. Art, especially well-done photography, is an important interest: both making photographs myself and enjoying the work of others. I can’t imagine not being able to take a photograph or being able to admire work of another photographer. Writing further the realization comes of how much the loss of sight would take away. No faces of familiar and loved people could be seen. The colors of a beautiful sunset would be beyond my ability to experience. Being an avid reader, I suppose I might be able to learn Braille but would sorely miss “seeing” the words. No, sight would not be my choice to give up.
Almost as quickly as the realization that life without sight is not something I can imagine, it occurs that hearing is just as important. Music has been such an important part of my life, including my profession, and can’t imagine not being able to experience it. Nor can I come to grips with not being able to talk and hear in a conversation. Certainly there are times when the over-abundance of sound in a large city can be a bit much. Even so, I can’t imagine not being able to hear it all.
The texture and suppleness of a loved one’s skin is as unique as the color of their eyes. It is beyond me to imagine not being able to touch and feel those I care about. To not know the difference between the texture of an apple and an orange would be a great loss. Due to an injury a few years ago, there is partial numbness of two fingers on my left hand. That little bit of loss of feeling causes me to be clumsy picking things up with that hand and I often drop things. The limited experience with restricted sense of touch causes me to know I would never willingly give it up.
This brings me to smell and taste and if I remember science class correctly the two are interrelated. Smell is said to be the sense most easily awakened and the one that creates the deepest memory. Further, smell helps keep us safe and endears us to places, people and things through our memory of their particular scent. Then there is taste which allows a plethora of food experiences and perceptions of the world that come through flavor, sweetness, bitterness and sourness. Imagine not knowing the difference in the taste of salt and sugar!
Willingly I would not give up one of the primary senses, but if it was necessary to give up one, my choice would probably be taste. That sure would make meals a lot simpler and I’d probably lose some weight also. How boring that would be!
What this little exercise did is cause me a bit greater appreciation for my ability to see, hear, taste, smell and touch. Just imaging not having a sense now taken for granted is an eye opener.
For at least today everything I will see will be a bit more attractive. Everything heard will be more pleasing to me. All things touched will be appreciated with a greater awareness of texture and shape. Foods will be chewed long and savored so I can enjoy their taste more fully. And no smell will be met with distaste, even the unpleasant ones.
Imaging being without one of my senses has brought, at least momentarily, a much greater appreciation for them all. By moving behind the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” I gain present day gratitude and appreciation. In all ways and all things, learning to be thankful for what I already have is an easy way to increase affluence in my life. Gratitude costs nothing, but brings great riches.
All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses. Friedfich Nietzsche