To go without

This week’s question: If you had to lose one of your senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling), which one would that be and why?

I’d hate to lose my sense of touch. Not to feel the wind or sun against my skin, the tickle of my cats’ whiskers on my nose.

I love seeing because I enjoy reading and observing things. Color is a bonus, but I also delight in the mysterious grays of night. If I lost my sight, I wouldn’t be able to drive my car about.

Losing my sense of smell would be difficult because of how of my brain files sensory data. Crayons, roast lamb, lily of the valley evoke kindergarten, Sunday dinner and mama’s garden.

A sense of taste makes life worth living. Fresh baked bread, orange marmalade, tomato soup.

I like listening too, not so much to music as others do, but often to as much quiet as I can get. If I view any shows on TV, programs or movies, I like to use close captions when I can.

If I had to lose a sense, I think not being able to hear would be easiest for me to bear.

I used to be impatient when I had to repeat myself several times to someone who could not hear me. I’d be ready for my karma.


No debate. My hearing. That would be my sacrifice. I’d miss the sound of birds, my loved ones’ voices and the squeaks peeping out of my little dog. But I can imagine those sounds.

I could not give away my sight. I would keep my voice to simplify communication, touch to stay safe, the miracle of flavor. My hearing already ebbs away, and it is not frightening.

There is sound in vibration and in reactions from those around me, the thrum of my cat’s purr. Sound is an abstract thing made in air, like color is of light. 


I love the smell of hot tar.

You see, my blue-collar Father climbed a different type of ladder than other dads in the upper middle class suburb where I grew up.

And many evenings, I’d curl up on the couch, rest my head on his chest, and just listen to him breathe as he dozed. This, our working-class version of quality time.

I’d close my eyes and that smell swirled around me–mingled with the sweat of a long day’s work on a roof somewhere. To my eight-year-old self it was as good as perfume. As comforting as a prayer.

Along with a handful of photos, these are the moments, the memories, that remain.

A few minutes spent in the woods thinking about sight and sound and the space that exists between these two senses. The jump cuts over the activity the kids are doing are not what I want them to be but for now they’ll do.  As usual my response is indirect. I couldn’t decide between sight or sound to take away.
When my kids are involved, I think I need to hear their voices. When the forest is concerned I think I would need to see the forest and the trees.

NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION: What character from any book would you like to be, and why?

Posted by MMJ

  1. I loved Catherine’s loving memory of her dad’s smell of hot tar. Beautiful.


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