Sense And Sense-ability




Mood And Perception


this week I have been working on the chapter in my book, that talks about the preciousness and power of our sense of smell and taste.  My research turned up the story of Molly Birnbaum, who damaged her olfactory nerve by the impact she experienced in a car accident.  Molly soon realised that the loss also diminished her  perception of the world. “It was as if the texture of my environment was wiped smooth,” she is quoted as saying in an New Scientist article; “The Unsung sense”.


The piece goes on to describe how Molly sought to regain her power of smell by training her olfactory receptors for 10 minutes a day using spices from her own kitchen.  She then took further advice from world class Chef’s and Perfumers about other steps she could take to regain her lost sense.  Gradually her power of smell did return.  But here’s the really interesting part of the story for me.  Molly also experienced a  link between her ability to smell and her mood.  She discovered that when she was depressed it was difficult to smell.  However, when her moods lightened, smells returned.


Fascinatingly, this reminded me of a passage from Jack Lusseyran’s autobiography; “And There Was Light”.  In which he recounts a similar realisation.    

 .  “I had completely lost the sight in my eyes.  I could no longer see the light of the world.  Yet, the light was still there! I found it in myself.  Lusseyran goes on to describe how his ability to perceive the world depended upon his mood; “The second great discovery came almost immediately afterwards.  that is, There was  only one way to see the inner light, and that was to love. When i was overcome with sorrow.  When  I let anger take hold of me.  when I envied those who saw, the light immediately decreased.  Sometimes it even went out completely.  Then I became blind.”


I wonder what in the world I might be missing, when I’m absorbed by my mundane worries, fears and feelings of self pity?


Andy Shipley


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