Gain Not Loss

Gain Not loss

By Robin Bush, ISR Communications

For the most part, we take our senses for granted. When acuity diminishes, we may adapt with hearing aids or glasses, replace teeth, or use walking sticks to connect with the terrain beneath our feet. Or we may increase acuity by extending our reach to new levels with microscopes, stethoscopes, and amplifiers or by exploring unknown places to experience new textures, sounds, sights, sensations, and tastes.

In her book “A Natural History of the Senses,” Diane Ackerman describes us as living in a sense-luscious world. Those of us for whom senses are fading or don’t exist find the remaining senses become acute so we can still process the world around us, albeit differently.  Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute, developed her sense of touch so finely that when placing her hands on a radio, she could feel the difference between coronets and strings through variations in vibrations, even though she could not hear them.  Her sense of smell acutely recalled her memories, which we can experience ourselves as smells transport us across miles and to years gone by. A whiff of rubbing against a tomato vine transports us back to Grandma’s garden, or the aroma of lilac recalls summer nights when the perfume of the blooms from the tree outside an open window filled our childhood bedroom. Helen Keller read and wrote about the sensuousness of the world with a level of intensity most of us never experience. Loss of a sense is not actually a loss but rather the opportunity for the other senses to grow and for us to use our brains differently. It is said humans use so little of our brains, and this is one way we can push those boundaries and develop what others may never experience. We are rewarded through our loss to discover our gain.