Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sense and Sense-ability on Sunday July 08, 2007

This subject keeps coming up on blogs here and there and it also came up on one or two of those 20 questions surveys thingies that go around. It has been phrased in a number of ways but all pretty much come down to the same thing which is your favorite sense and why (one survey asks it as if you could only HAVE one and another asks which one you could give up)?
School children are routinely taught that there are five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) so I am going to focus only on those for the purposes of this discussion.

Smell is probably my least favored of the senses and most likely the first I would give up under duress. Most likely because growing up with allergies smell is the first sense to go during some seasons. I do have a very good scent memory and can pick out very subtle scents on a good day. Other days, I can’t smell a darn thing. That to me makes the sense of smell already disposable. I do have several scents that to me are very special. I can generally recognize a loved one by their scent and it feels like a close hug. The smell of mums takes me immediately to the feel of one tucked behind my ear by my mom in those fall mornings on my way to school. The scent of coffee makes me long for the warmth it holds. The smell of certain lilies and roses brings immediately to mind the silky smoothness of their petals.

Taste would be next on my list. It is actually sort of a toss up as to if it is first or second and a tough call but I am putting it second for now. While I enjoy a flavor as much as the next guy I have never been one of those folks who will go crazy describing a flavor in nearly sexual graphical detail and wonderment. To me a flavor is a flavor. I enjoy some, I don’t enjoy others, and some flavors bring back pleasant memories and some don’t. I have to say that there are some very pleasant flavors out there that rank high on my list like the fiery warmth of a spicy curry, the ticklish taste of honey, the silky feel of fresh ice cream, the smooth caress of a fine bourbon, or the salty sting of sweat on skin.

Sight is a touchy one for me right now. Having spent most of my life in and out of glasses or contacts I have always felt vision was temporary anyway but it also is one of the senses we use a lot. This has obviously come up for me more frequently lately with the issue with Maxwell the Alien deciding to take up residence between my eyes and shove those pesky optic nerves out of his way. I have been losing sight rapidly in my right eye and slower in my left. This is a bit scary as living HERE where I do I can do most things without my vision. I already do most of my day-to-day getting around on foot but certain things require I drive to them. Public transportation would work for SOME things but others seriously require a car. Work could be dealt with (with the advances in software for talk to text) it would be almost a non-issue assuming I could GET there. For the most part I already don’t rely on my vision. I seldom turn on a light in the dark to get around preferring instead to simply get through on memory and feel. I have some favorite visual memories that bring back a place and time and the feeling that the place brought with it.
Hearing is obviously one of my favorite senses. No one here I am sure has ever noticed that I have a thing for music. I love the lyrical turn of phrase that comes along with good music, I love the rhythm of the notes, and the up and down flow of the chords as the verses pass by. Yeah, yeah I could go on and on about music but you get the point. I also love the turn of a phrase, the accents that people have in their speech, and all the different words people use to express themselves. There are certain accents and voices that just really get to me. I have certain people in my live to whom I could just happily listen to forever. There are certain voice types that I hear that just make me happy, the deep rumbly bass of a “James Earl Jones” type voice, the rough whiskey and cigarettes of a “Sam Elliott” type, or the lyrical lilting turn of almost ANY European accent. I am huge fan of the contact high to be had from having a conversation with a loved one while one ear is pressed up against them. Mmmm hearing….but it is not my favorite.
Touch has got to be my favorite sense. I am by my very nature a touchy person. I move through life touching everything around me. Sometimes it is as subtle as the simple act of placing my fingers on something other times it is very obvious as I come to a full stop to stop pick up and explore every surface of something that has caught my attention.

One of my earliest childhood memories centers around my Baba (my dad’s dad, my grandfather). Back in my youth most fabrics were painted with designs or used plain. My Baba was working with some experimental dyes and colorings. There are great family memories about this time including one about having a green spotted dog for a while but my favorites are from the times where I would be taken to the textile mills with him while he examined some new thing. I would often fall quickly behind as I stopped frequently to touch all the fabrics hanging off the looms or hanging off the ends of the tables. I can close my eyes to this day and just feel the rough woven fabric most commonly used for pants and skirts back then. It was a cotton but almost a burlap or rough twill and for women’s skirts the lower edge was painted in silk screened images one color over the other to make a design. I spent many happy hours running my fingers back and forth from the rough material to the ever smoother layers of paint to the total smoothness of the top layer. This would be the place where my lifetime fascination with textured fabrics started I am sure. It follows me to this day. I have a friend who has what has to be the world’s greatest shirt. It literally almost drives me insane. It is woven in some very unusual style where it actually has stripes of different textures. A smooth stripe is bordered by a raised edge and followed by a rough stripe….yow. A deadly combination that is nearly impossible to keep from touching. It makes me feel like a cat with catnip, I can’t resist and want to just roll around on it…….
Quick change the subject…..touch plays a huge role in my other love that most people who have been around me know about. Rocks. I have a fascination with them too. The ever changes textures and temperatures of rocks… I love them. I have quite the rock collection even though I TRY to keep it under control. Certain rocks are just irresistible. I love how a cool rock can be warm on the other side. How a very smooth rock will just slip right through your fingers like silk. The grabbing feel of a rough rocky surface. I can spend hours with a single rock and have been known to find one that strikes my fancy and carry it around all day just to keep touching it.
Actually I am that way about anything I find myself fascinated with the feel of. I find it not uncommon to catch myself unconsciously touching something. The incredibly soft almost too fine to be real fur behind the bunny’s ears, the smooth fur on the top of the dog’s head, the burr cut hair down the sides of The Man’s head, hair on smooth skin, muscles (not the overbuilt Arnold kind please), wood grain, tile, glass, a textured pillow, the gel pad in front of my keyboard, the difference in texture of the keys on that keyboard (some worn smooth while others still have their original roughness, the small ridge on the F and J keys)… My friends all have over time become used to this irritating habit of mine. My BMF has long since given up trying to keep me from messing up his hair (incredible baby soft curls) and just learned to live with it. Likewise my friend with the incredibly smooth soft skin has become used to me stroking her arm. I have several friends with very strong rough hands from working with them all day who patiently sit while I run my hands over theirs for hours.
I have another sneaky obsession. This one is so sneaky that I think most people are not even aware that I am doing it. Most often when caught (not everyone can feel me do it if I don’t want them to) people tend to think I am actually touching them and then are surprised to see my hand hovering OVER where they feel me (if I tell them what I am doing instead of simply moving my hand away). I love to touch auras. The silky smooth yet electric tickly feel of an aura draws me in. From there they all feel different and I love to see what people’s aura feels like. It is indescribable and I get more information from the FEEL of someone’s aura than from the mental picture that comes with it. There is my secret… I am an aura-o-phile…. I sneak a touchy peek at people’s auras…. Kidding mostly. I do have a habit of touching people’s auras but I don’t generally do it to random folks just to those who are close to me. Funny thing is some people very close to me are so in tuned to me doing it that they have been known to tell me without even looking… ”stop touching my aura”.
Touch, yeah, touch is my favorite sense. Actually if you look at the descriptions about in all my OTHER senses you will see a common thread. Almost every other sense to me is describable as a FEEL. The only one that has a component that is NOT a feeling is sound. It DOES have a part that is very definitely “touch” and I have been known to be where I can’t HEAR something and put my hand on a surface and simply FEEL it. I also catch myself sitting with my foot on a speaker or another surface where I can “feel” the music. I think actually this is part of the draw of live music, it is both the music itself and the actual FEEL of the music in a more surround than surround sound fashion. So in the final analysis, I like having all my senses but the one I think I can’t live with out would be touch.

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