Sunday, September 4, 2011

Without a sense

We learn at an early age that we each have 5 senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. We use these to sense danger, if we smell smoke or hear a siren. Our sense heighten pleasure, so much so that the smell of warm baked cookies can link you to your mom's kitchen, or the taste of cotton candy can bring images to mind of your first carnival. What would a hug mean if you couldn't feel the person's arms wrapped around yours? What importance would music have in religion, culture and history, if not for our ability to sense sound with our ears?

In addition to those, we often discuss a sixth sense. (And no, I'm not thinking about the Bruce Willis movie.) That feeling of deja vu, or the crawling feeling you get when you know someone's watching you, those are senses too. These internal senses help evoke emotion, stir longings, grapple with memory. They can't be tested as easily as sight or hearing, but for most people, this sixth sense can be, well, sensed. With out, we'd all be grossly out of tune with one another. This humanistic sense connects us, makes us wired in a strange, intangible way.

But the list of definitions for sense continue. The dictionary includes entries such as: sound, practical intelligence--the value, merit, or significance of something--a DNA sequence capable of coding for an amino acid--an opinion formed by a group consensus. In a properly functioning society, leaders have a good sense of what's going on. They also are able to sense change arriving; they provide a sense of security for their followers. Followers too utilize their own senses when listening to broadcasts and empathizing with situations. In order to seek progress, individuals must provide a moral sense in their lives. To keep things light, we must develop a sense of humor. We must realize that there's little sense in holding on to the past, when the future lies so close to our eyes.

Sometimes, we lose our senses. Flustering situations, panic, laughter, change, can all alter our perception of the life we have built for ourselves. That's perfectly OK. Some moments in our lives, sense shouldn't take the reigns. Death, for instance, make perfect sense. Life happens, and it ends. Biological, right? So why do we cry and mourn for our loved ones when they pass? It's illogical if you think it through, and yet our emotions take over, and sense gets put in the back seat. A lot of decisions made in Washington make sense for the greater good, and yet they result in arguments and anger among different political parties. In forming our own opinions, we essentially give up any hope of finding common ground, a set of simple, sensible rules to live by. When we follow our own desires, we forfeit the right to say 'this makes sense.' Sense, in this sense, refers to personal perception, not straight knowledge. That's perfectly OK too. 

A man who hopes to get close to others, to make connections stronger than political, social, or business allies, must overstep the boundaries of what makes sense to himself, and accept that things can be right without being logical. Life isn't a puzzle. It's not a race to see who can build the most impressive picture. It's about indulging in delicacies on occasion, living out our dreams, and speaking up, even if our sentences make no sense.  In the long run, comprehension can't compare with our internally developed six senses. Those primitive aspects did, after all, came first. 

And now that you've read all that, 
listen to this completely nonsensical song by the Barenaked Ladies (a nonsense name if I ever saw one.) I may or may not (I do) know all the words to this song.

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