No Senses Left Behind - Edge of Wellness

No Senses Left Behind

Over the past few summers, I have been lucky enough to spend large amounts of time at my parent’s house in northern Minnesota right on Lake Superior.

One Morning, as I was looking out of the big front windows, I was greeted by the rising sun and a perfectly quiet lake – barely a ripple (a seriously rare event on Superior)! Looking out it looked like everything was still. So I grabbed my coffee and headed down to the rocking chairs to start my morning there.

Before I started reading – I took a moment to take it all in!

To my amazement, everything was not still – As I sat there I could feel the coolness of the air, the warmth of sun and the unseen fog swirling around my perch, the birds were going nuts celebrating another day, the smells of my mom’s wildflowers covered in morning dew filled the air.

Everywhere there were signs of life.

After really soaking it in, I turned to the book I had grabbed, Sigurd Olson’s Listening Point (one of my dads favorites and that summers morning devotions if you will), and opened it to the next chapter … And as God, or the Universe or serendipity so often do when they want to make a point, that chapter put a giant exclamation mark on everything I had just realized about the world around me!

In the chapter, Sigurd was describing the cabin that he had chosen for his sacred point and the paragraph that started the goosebumps was as follows:

“I have always felt that views through windows leave much to be desired, that to really enjoy a view it should be undimmed by glass or frame. While a scene might be beautiful from the inside, something important is always lost there, for a vista divorced from the open air and the smells and sounds and feelings around you is only partially enjoyed. If we could see all there was to see from indoors, if we became content to have the beauty around us encompassed by the four walls of the cabin, we would lose what we came to find, and that we must never do”

Deeper in the chapter he continues that windows should only act as the appetizer, giving you glimpses and inviting you to partake in the experience.

Wow – talk about on point :). And as I reflect more this morning on that experience, this overwhelming sense of a society content to view something from a 2″x 4” screen and assume it has experienced it swept over me!

Thanks to technology, we can now see anything within seconds, and we can move from one beautiful thing to another …. say the Seven Sisters in Banff to Victoria Falls in South Africa to Lyse Fjord in Norway to the Sistine Chapel in Rome by simply swiping our finger. This works if we treat it like the appetizer, creating bucket lists of places we promise ourselves we want to visit but the problem with this is that without some “Soak Time” in between (the 2 miles of hiking between waterfalls) or realizing the context, (just how small you are in this world compared to the majesty) or how your other senses react to it (how the mist feels coming off the falls, or the smell of the ocean and the sounds of the birds) … it is nothing but a fleeting fix if we don’t get a chance to experience it!

When looking at how senses are tied to memory, science tells us that sight is not even close to say smell, at creating meaningful memories.  The latest study I read discovered that people remember 35% of what they smell and only 5% of what they see.   Despite this, society seems to be using sight as the primary and often exclusive sense to experience the world around us and letting our noses get 0 of the fun.


There is no better example of this that I can think of than how I spent last weekend.  I had seen Drag Racing on TV lots of times and always was underwhelmed.  It seemed so abrupt, brutish and monotonous.

Last weekend, Dawn’s (my girlfriend) Parents came to Nashville with the intention of crossing a big one off their bucket lists.  You see, unlike me, they are giant fans of NHRA … and every time Morty (her dad) talked about hitchhiking to the track 100 miles away from his hometown as a teenager with nothing but a cooler, you could see the sparkle of an 18 year old in his eyes.

5 hours from Nashville, across the Smokey Mountains is Charlotte, and there lies zMaxx raceway … the only place in the world that they race dragsters 4 wide instead of 2.  Since they built the track 10 years ago Morty had wanted to be there with the 60,000 other fans to experience it.

I fully admit, I was skeptical.  While I know everything about houses, I know nothing about cars.  Just not my thing.  But Morty’s excitement drew me in … And I can say now, I was not disappointed … it was the experience of a lifetime.

I can still remember how your whole body would shake when they did their burnouts (including one of Dawn’s beers … right off the bleacher), how the Nitro-Methane smelled and subtly burned your nose and eyes, how the flames burned the sides of the car every time they hit the gas,  how the sound of 10,000 horsepower explodes in your ears right through the earplugs, how my hairs would stand up in anticipation as they staged, and the euphoric “Hells Yeah!!!” moment that would sweep over your whole system when they launched down the track at over 300 miles an hour.

I have goosebumps now just remembering it … and it makes me close my eyes and revisit it with a giant smile.

So, I see this as an opportunity for me, for all of us … Call it – “No Senses left behind!” :).

I know taking inventory of my life and how I have so often chosen to experience it, I am doing what Siggy said is “Something we must never do”.

I have forgotten what I came to find!

So I am making a resolution and I invite you to do the same – its time to get off our electronic devices and instead plan our next adventures, our full immersion adventures, our all 5 senses screaming that they are alive adventures!  Little or big, it doesn’t matter, but our senses depend on us to embrace life to be happy and we them to lock the memory in and make us smile for the rest of our lives!