59 – Senses

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.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

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?

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

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.

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81 thoughts on “59 – Senses”

  1. Well thanks for that Willie Nelson song – one of my favorite artists. Senses are so important and when you lose one of your senses it makes life a little harder to deal with. When I lost the sight in my left eye my depth preception was lost. Since sight is so important I though I would not be able to continue with my photography, but I try never to give up. Such a great post Frank. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peggy,
      Glad you enjoyed a bit of Willie in this post. Thank you for sharing a part of your story. I had an unexpected eye issue 5-6 years ago. It was scary, although my recovery wasn’t 100%. Cheers to you for continuing to do as much as possible. FYI: The next six walks will individually focus on a different sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s to the senses! As you say they are very personal too as each sense is ‘filtered’ through what we cal : ‘self’!
    May they always receive and perceive as clear as possible. 😉
    Yamas, my friend! 🌟🍷

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent post Frank! I find it fascinating that we have such incredible capabilities and yet for the most part they are ignored. We are aware of what is around us but as you said we’re usually on auto pilot. When we focus our senses it is a whole new world

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Walking on the beach is indeed a sensory delight, and as you have mentioned, personal to each individual. I have been noticing lately how my cats and dogs use their senses too, which for them is their way of communicating.
    Another wonderful and thoughtful post, Frank. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I believe that is true, Frank. Due to their inability to communicate through words, animals rely on their senses for everything. And because they “think” less than us, they worry less as well! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The background waves are music to my ears this morning. I’ve often wondered about this, how the world is experienced differently depending on which senses a creature is gifted with. Sometimes I wonder what cats are staring at — they seem to see things I cannot detect. Love the Willie Nelson song, too. 🙂 May we never take our senses for granted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Barbara,
      Glad the waves were a positive experience for you this morning. Because we had them, I’m with you about cats. Overall, human senses are probably not as keen as the rest of the mammalian world. I think of it as there is only so much to go around, that is gain it in one area means losing it elsewhere. Our ability to thinking, problem solve, and communicate came at the expense of less sensitive senses. Just a thought. Glad you enjoyed Willie!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am reading “Life’s Edge” by Carl Zimmer, and some of what you wrote coincides with his writing. What are the senses? What does it mean to be alive? All good things to ponder in April. Or in any other month.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The bit about blindness caught my attention. I’ve worn glasses /contacts almost my entire life and am so thankful for them, even though I’d love to not have to wear them at all. People have asked the question “Would you rather be blind or deaf?” For me, that’s not a choice. As little as I would like being deaf, I’d much prefer that to blindness.

    When I think of songs about senses, John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” is what comes to mind: https://genius.com/John-denver-annies-song-lyrics.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Janet,
      Wonderful addition with Annie’s song thank you. 🙂 I too have worn glasses for many years – since second grade for me. As for the choice of losing a sense – oh boy —- tough call … but memory tells me that I will address the lack of a sense in some of the walks about individual senses.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post about our important senses – and how we may feel by losing them. Also, understanding others who have lost a sense and the senses of other living things (including plants – an area I have studied).

    Another aspect to consider is hypersensitivity. This is a struggle for some people on the autism spectrum. Sometimes I struggle with it a bit myself. For example, most people have learned to ignore the sensation of their clothing touching their body. For a hypersensitive person, it can almost be a torment.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I am MOST aware of my senses when in certain environments like walking in the woods or on a beach. When there are no distractions I become more tuned into sights, scents, sounds…..it does make me think about how lucky I am to HAVE my senses. Built in antennae I suppose and while those antennae break down somewhat with age, they hopefully won’t let me down entirely because having our senses brings us a wider world to love and enjoy. Great post Frank!


    Liked by 2 people

  10. Well Frank, I must say I do NOT take the senses for granted and think often of how terrible it would be to be blind and see only darkness or to be deaf and never know music. I try to imagine what it must have been like for Helen Kelle, who overcame so much to become such an inspiration. Yes, technology has come a very long way to assist those who need it, but I appreciate every day the gifts of the senses. Thank you for drawing attention to them in this thoughtful post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tina,
      A salute to you for being one who doesn’t take senses for granted. I think about the number of people who lost taste and smell due to COVID – people who are now OK, except for those senses returning. I imagine their perspective about the senses has changed. Personally, (about 5 years ago) I had a strange, sudden change in my vision. Both weird and scary. Fortunately, the body has repaired itself – but not 100% … I’m guessing (95%). Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts.


    1. Amy,
      Thank you. Technology has been helpful in countless ways. I know of a situation of a baby born in January will probably be getting a cochlear implant in June. Personally, that amazes me … let alone what the cutting edge stuff does. 🙂


  11. Such a wonderful Willie Nelson song.
    I never wear ear buds on my walks because I don’t want to be distracted from seeing and hearing and feeling, which I feel I would be. Kind of like that joke of turning down the music in the car so you can see where you’re going. Sense confusion!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I think the key thing is just taking time to notice and appreciate our senses, Frank (and you’ve done a great service here for reminding us to do just that!). I often wonder what my dogs are looking at, when they gaze off into the distance and stare. I don’t see a thing, but it’s obvious they do. I rather like to think they might be seeing angels!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. So, this post made a lot of sense!
    Ah Frank, you know I can be a bit cheeky, and love a laugh.
    You have made a wonderful post, and I’m happy to be reading this on Easter Sunday. I wish you a happy holiday, whatever you celebrate!
    Scrolling down comments, I briefly see that you had some sight issues. It’s a scary thing. I was blind in 1 eye for weeks, after cataract surgery. I can relate. Adore the Willie Nelson song! Heres one for you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AKbUm8GrbMx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Resa,
      I’ve been waiting for the “lot of sense” comment – so thanks for coming through. 🙂 My eye issue was odd and scary at times. I know I wrote about it on aFa, but not remembering every post is ok. 😉 You were blind for a week? Wow … now that’s scary! Planned or unplanned? …. and thanks for The Who!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post Frank.. So pleased you mentioned Cats… I have one curled beside me now…. 😀
    Where would we be without our senses…
    The wind right now howling in my chimney breast… while my fingers tap on the keys while I look at that beautiful heron and the sun setting over the ocean… We engage so many of our senses all at once and never give them a moments thought until you are missing one..
    I am grateful for all of mine..
    Have a wonderful Easter Holiday Frank.. Hope you have had a peaceful day where your senses have been overflowing ….
    Love and blessings your way ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue,
      Best Easter wishes to you as well. We had a warm, beautiful spring day – which was very welcome after a cold week. Yes, all our senses working at once to tell us about our environment. Although your cat may be comfortable, I’m sure those ears are alert. Hope all is well with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m glad you mentioned plants, Frank. I am always fascinating watching plants adapt, as though I can visually observe a plant using its senses reaching for light, or shrinking of heat only to be revived again by a good drink. I do think there have been times I could almost see a plant listening to me cheer it on. And my senses were all enlivened this past week when I was able to go to the beach not just once, but twice! After a year of staying away, this was all I needed to put myself right with the world again. The sights, smells, feel and sounds are good for the soul indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debra
      You had two trips to the beach? That’s wonderful because I know the beach is a place you find renewal. Hooray for you being able to do that. I also know your love for plants and your dedication to their care. Thanks for chiming in with the fact that they also have and use senses. No doubt about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I become ultra aware of all my senses when walking the beach. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, temperature (esp temperature) touch… of the wind, of the sand… and balance (try walking on stones without that balance)

    Liked by 1 person

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