Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Extra Senses


Imagine you hug your mother. You talk to her, look her over and smell her shampoo. It's more satisfying than a phone call, right? But if you’re trying to avoid her, like if you owe her money, for example, you might want to just text.

Sight, sound, smell and touch (let's set aside taste for now): Every sense adds more information, and more information helps connection. So in this way, connection is communication. With fewer senses involved, communication is harder. There is more room for error, for disconnection.

Over and above those first four senses, which I think of as our ordinary senses, we have our Extra Senses. Yes, like extra sensory. They’re not going to sound all that glamorous at first, but bear with me.

Attention. Paying attention sure does help. Have you ever tuned someone out while they spoke to you? I do it all the time. I should probably work on that.

Familiarity. With friends and family, we don’t have to explain everything. We can communicate in short hand. Sometimes even in grunts.

Place. There’s a reason you kept driving past your crush’s house in high school. It’s the same reason we want to see our friend’s new apartment and go back to visit the lands of our ancestors. It helps us to understand subtle things. And that understanding makes us feel closer.

Time. The past fades as we move through our lives. The future is hazy. The present is more accessible, and so are those who share our time.

Affinity. Sometimes you just GET someone. You’re on the fast track to connection. You share interests or values or personality traits. Maybe you’re genetically related. Maybe you’re just fooling yourself, especially if they’re charming and good looking, but that’s a whole other topic.

Now here’s where the Extra Senses get exciting. If every one of them contributes to connection, then each of them, alone, can be the basis for connection.

And connection is communication.

So, theoretically, if two of us share just one Extra Sense, we can communicate. Not as successfully, perhaps, as with our ordinary senses, but enough, if we really try, to be almost magical.

P.S.- I left out taste on purpose. It brought up disturbing images of cannibalism.