For most of the month of April, most (if not all) beach walks will be without collaborators. It’s my way of saluting them with a break. This walk begins a series about the senses.
Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.
I like walking on the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Ever think about your senses? Yes – the senses – that collective that we associated with sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste, and balance.
The senses – the cooperative making us aware of our external and internal environments.
The senses – the cumulative sensory devices gathering information that nerves carry to our brain. A brain integrating the messages into our reality that we shape into our individualized personal perspective.
The senses – something all living things have – maybe not all to the same degree of sensitivity – but they have senses. After all, detecting and reacting to environmental conditions is important to all life forms. Maybe not all the same senses as us, but they have senses with the same purposes as ours – to make the organism aware of its surroundings.
Sensory devices may be as simple as to detect light – that is, to either seek it or avoid it. Others see well enough to detect movement – but even our vision isn’t that of an eagle, hawk, or falcon.
Some organisms use senses to find a desired pH environment. Other organisms use senses to trigger movement. Some senses detect temperatures to guide the organism toward a preferred temperature. The senses have many roles in the collective of life.
Looking at the shells on the sand, I realize they once housed a living thing with senses. Not as the specialized organs that may be in our minds, but as specialized nerve endings sensitive to touch so a reflex action can quickly occur.
I pass a jellyfish washed ashore with their sensory ability that reacts with a sting. Since it may still be alive, I watch my step.
I see a pelican diving because their sensory eyes spotted a prey below the water’s surface – a fish who can also see with eyes and detect other senses with its lateral line on the side of its body. The lateral line is a structure that our eyes can see, but the fish still may fall prey to the pelican – but maybe not.
I think about the predator raptor birds that I’ve seen – falcons, hawks, eagles, and ospreys calming sitting high above as if they were relaxing in a comfortable chair. They take their time – waiting and watching – relying on their senses for their next meal.
Those of us who have been around cats realize the tandem teamwork of the cat’s paws, whiskers, nose, eyes, and ears.
I think about for plants to react to their environment, they must have a way of detecting conditions to bring about a response. Whether growing toward light, the reaction of roots to drought, or a Venus Flytrap closing on a victim, plants require senses.
The senses – a detection system that constantly bombards our brain with information – many of which are unconscious to us – so we are oblivious to their usefulness.
Many other sensory messages we choose to ignore – yet some get logged as future memory recall. Some create a moment in time that sticks with us. Maybe a learning situation because I wonder – is there any learning that doesn’t start with a sense?
I think of the technologies that assist our senses. The corrective lenses that I wear for better eyesight; a hearing aid to detect and amplify lost sounds. Oh, the wonders of how Braille transforms touch into visual words so the visually impaired can read.
I think of the blind who can’t see the graph but can interpret the data through technology that transforms the data into audible sound.
I think of technologies that extend our senses: from the simple stethoscope to a sonogram and beyond.
I think about how much more awareness we have when we tune into our senses – that is, taking them from auto-pilot to consciousness. Then we notice much more around us. Noticing the flavors and textures in food. Noticing the nuances of wine. Noticing the details in a painting or photograph, Noticing the reminders associated with a smile. Noticing the different scents in the air.
The bottom line is simple – our senses are vital for the survival of all living things – yet to us humans, our senses are also personal.
As I walk, my senses are simultaneously at work, which allows me to think about this wonderful collective that we may take for granted are good thoughts for this day. Yes – the collective known as senses that have awareness as the common denominator. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have written about senses
- My Sensitive Senses (a poem)
- A Five-Sense Check-In (a personal essay)
- The Five Senses (a poem)
- All My Senses (a poem by a reader here)
Next Post: Sight – Tuesday 6 April @ 1 AM (Eastern US)
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