I have been watching crime investigation documentaries lately and I find some of them engrossing because it keeps my mind working. It’s just like putting together 100 tiny pieces of a big picture puzzle. But what I have noted is that when investigators would talk to people near the crime scene, the common response is: I didn’t see anything unusual or I didn’t hear anything out of the normal.
What I also find dismaying is when they have varying versions of how the suspect looked like or what he was wearing. Some witnesses can’t even point to the suspect when he stands among other men in a police lineup. One witness says he heard screams but he couldn’t tell where the screams were coming from or whether they’re shrieks of frolicking teen-agers or screams for help from a woman in dire danger, and so he didn’t bother calling the police.
If we were witnesses to a crime, most of us probably would be unreliable. Why? Because of our poor sense of sight and hearing.
This is true in my case. I don’t wear glasses but now I’ve noticed that my sight is weaker than before. Is this due to aging? Or abuse? Maybe it’s time for me to see the eye doctor.
Lately I have been having problems with my sense of hearing. In particular, my left ear is not picking up sounds and voices as sharply as it should be. Most of the time, the sounds I get from my left ear are muted or muffled. Sometimes I have trouble understanding spoken words.
Why am I talking about my problematic senses? It’s because I’m afraid we are not using them fully and properly. Remember the mantra about muscles: use them or lose them?
We take them for granted most of the time and abuse them many times. The world in which we live in and the way we live contribute to the gradual de-construction of our senses.
Excessive screen time is harming the eyes of young people. Unlimited or excessive amount of screen time causes side effects like eye irritation, fatigue, blurred vision, and more. Wearing headphones or ear pods all day can increase your risk for ear infections, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
Because people are eating too fast and too much their sense of taste has been so dulled they find all dishes tasting flat. Their solution: sauces and condiments, lots of it, and the spicier the better.
They say that 75 percent of knowledge comes to us visually, 13 percent comes through hearing and 12 percent comes through smell, taste and touch. While most would probably say that sight is the most important sense and next is hearing, we should not forget about our other senses too quickly. Each one of our five senses is important.
For instance, consider the skin, which contains the receptors for touch. Do you realize that this is the largest sensory organ of the human body, accounting for more than a tenth of the body’s weight? Taste is perhaps the most under-used of all our senses; we have about 10,000 taste-bud receptors on our tongue.
It seems Western societies are more highly focused on vision than other senses. You will note that the English vocabulary is more detailed in describing visual impressions than the vocabulary to describe impressions from the other senses.
But other cultures give more importance to the other senses. We Filipinos have various ways of describing taste: mapait, matamis, mapakla, ma-anghang, maasim, maalat and so on. Turkish and Farsi cultures are particularly good at expressing differences in taste, and languages such as Dogul Dom spoken in Mali are particularly good at expressing differences in touch.
Instead of arguing which sense is more important, why not treat each one properly and with care? Beyond that, why not develop them to the fullness of their capacity? Just like the fact that we used only 10 percent of our brain capacity, we barely use the power that is respectively innate in our five senses.
Enhancing the ability of all our five senses can help us find and release our hidden enthusiasm and drive. Sometime ago when the Covid-19 pandemic was raging, our immediate family was mildly infected. In my case, my sense of smell and taste were impaired. I couldn’t enjoy our meals no matter how delicious the dishes looked. I think this also affected my enthusiasm to do anything throughout the episode. In the native parlance, “walang kagana-gana” (lacks enthusiasm). My inner drive came back only when those two senses became almost normal again. After that, I never took my senses for granted.
This is what author Gretchen Rubin has also discovered. One day, after a visit to her eye doctor, she realized that she’d been overlooking a key element of happiness: her five senses. She’d spent so much time stuck in her head that she’d allowed the vital sensations of life to slip away, unnoticed. This epiphany lifted her from a state of foggy preoccupation into a world rediscovered by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. So she has written a book entitled “Live life in 5 senses.” It is an open invitation to start living a life of more energy, creativity, and joy by tuning in to the five senses.
If we get the author’s point, we can start to appreciate the richness and diversity of our sensory abilities in a new way. We can be grateful that we have all of our senses and that they give us the power to perceive life in diverse ways.
It is up to each of us to discover and find ways to heighten our senses and use our powers of perception to live fuller, richer lives—and, ultimately, how to move through the world with more vitality and the sense of surprise and wonder.
One more thing, none of our senses is an island. Each one of them works better in coordination and cooperation with others. Make them work together in synergy.
Every moment is an opportunity to cultivate your senses. When you are in conversations, be more mindful of the words and pauses. What is said or unsaid may mean more. When you eat new dishes, be more acutely discerning of the array of rich tastes that your tongue and your nose are discovering for you. Do it with the mindfulness of a wine connoisseur or sommelier who can often identify the quality of a wine by smelling it, tasting it and feeling the texture with his seasoned tongue. So next time you say “this is delish and scrumptious” you really mean it.
With your heightened senses, you will see people beginning to benefit from your presence. They will be drawn to you because they will sense the vitality, zest, and cheeriness oozing out of your inner self. They will be fascinated by your discovery of aspects of living they’re missing because of their poorly developed senses.
The truism “seeing is believing” may no longer be enough for you if you wield the power of sharpened senses. It now makes more sense if you can also hear, touch, smell and taste it. There’s nothing like five senses working together as one!