Monday, August 06, 2007

Common Senses

In elementary school when we do the units on the 5 senses they seem so cool. It’s THE FIVE SENSES!!! We go through a phase where much emphasis is placed on each sense and on noting the experiences brought about by each sense. Each sense is viewed as so important and such a crucial aspect of experiencing life’s events.

Our teacher quizzes us over which sense we use to identify different objects. Did you note the smell? Was it the sound you heard? What flavor did it taste like? Did you run your finger across its surface?

There’s no doubt the senses are amazing and essential to our everyday lives, but how close attention to do give them as we get older? Do we begin to take them for granted? What if one of our senses was suddenly taken from us? Would we once again experience the appreciation for that sense? Would it be a feeling of sudden loss?

I think as we grow accustom to our senses, we begin to take them for granted. We begin to experience the senses as just commonalities. We get to a point where they are just our common senses, rather than THE FIVE SENSES!!!

As life moves along we forget to note the details. We ignore the pleasantries that the senses can provide us. The saying “stop and smell the roses” is just one example of how we get to a point of missing out on what the senses can add to life.

Though we may not consciously note the experiences our senses provide us with on a daily basis, they play a larger role in our life than we give them credit for most the time…

If you’ve ever lost a loved one that you had regular interactions with, it’s in the days following the loss that your senses remind you of their presence. For example…

Pictures of that loved one become MUCH more present following their death than before. People find themselves surrounding themselves with photographs of the individual. We miss seeing the person and photos are the last visual we have for our sense of sight.

People long to touch their loved one again. They miss the casual touches, the embraces, the romantic touches. Many long for that last opportunity to place a hand on the body at the funeral. Sure, we realize they will not feel the same then—that touch will be different—but we long for the sense of touch again. We want to hold that shirt he/she always wore. We want to hug the stuff animal he/she loved.

The sound of one’s voice takes on a new meaning. We long to hear the loved one’s voice again. We’ll call voicemail machines, just to hang-up at the sound of the beep merely to get to hear their voice one last time. We save voicemail messages left from them on our phones. We refuse to erase the recorded messages knowing that they can never be recreated.

The loss of a romantic partner can leave an individual missing a taste. One wanting to revisit the taste of a romantic kiss. Missing the taste left behind after a goodbye kiss.

Smells are often taken for granted in life, but they are some of the most noted reminders after a loved one passes. His/her perfume or cologne. The smell of one’s shampoo lingering from their freshly cleansed hair. The mere smell of one’s body scent. We each have a unique body scent that is often only noted after spending much time in one’s presence, particularly in one’s home. We smell every shirt of his/hers. We can smell them on their belongings. We want to smell their clothes that smell like them or the pillow they once laid their head on. The child’s blanket or stuff animal they slept with still carries their body scent. It’s those smells that we find ourselves taking in deeply when we get a chance to re-experience them after losing the being that they are associated with.

The revisiting of the senses following a loss can come quickly and last for different periods of time. Some will find it hard to past the visual reminders. Some will continually fix their sights on photos. Some will never erase the voice recordings. Others will use no other cologne to engulf their surroundings. Maybe its one sense connecting a person with their loved one, or maybe it’s four or five senses; whatever the case, the senses leave their common state and become alive again.

It’s amazing how THE FIVE SENSES affect our daily interactions with one another! Truly take in every sight, every smell, every taste, every sound, and every touch, because you don’t know when it might be gone for good.

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