Reflecting back on this year, I realize how much was temporarily taken away from me. For reasons still unknown, I lost my hearing for three months. I could only hear about 40% of what I used to hear. Two months after resolving that, I lost my taste and smell to COVID. It’s creeping its way back, but the amount of disorientation experienced from not having three things I took so deeply for granted was profound. This is what I learned from losing my senses.
1. Our sense of smell keeps us safe.
When we can’t smell, we can’t identify poisons, bacteria and toxins. We, like other animals, rely heavily on smell to notify us about the safety of the food we’re eating, the products we’re using and even the state and health of our own bodies. Not being able to smell left me feeling more helpless, insecure and ungrounded than I could’ve imagined. Not to mention, I realized how soothing the smells of nature are to me and how much I missed not having them.
2. Our sense of taste gives us pleasure.
Maybe it’s my Italian roots, but losing my sense of taste really put a damper on my life. To me, food is so much more than simple nourishment of the body, it’s pleasure, experience and joy. Taste is a way for me to become present, immersed and happy. Without it, this key piece of my life was truly bland, bleak and unexciting.
3. Our sense of sound connects us.
Losing my sense of sound made me feel isolated, lonely and lost. It sounds obvious, but I truly realized how important hearing is to conversation, connection and relationships. I found myself nodding my head when I didn’t understand just to avoid asking, “what?” a million times. I found myself losing track of the words around me and then getting down on myself for not following for something I had no control over. The work I had to put in made me want to self-isolate.
Though I leaned into my incredible ability to see colors, shapes, and all the beautiful things around me and relished in all the feelings inside and outside of me from the textures in my mouth to the warm air on my skin, without the rest of my senses, I felt disconnected, disoriented and frustrated. I realized how much they keep me safe, give me pleasure, and connect me to others. I realized how important it was to count my lucky stars for what I have for my senses are my bridges to the world around me. Whatever you have, you’re lucky. Thank your senses. Use them. Be here now. They might not always be and neither will you.