This past week I've been teaching my kids about Louis Braille. This always elicits questions about how blind people do certain things. I have been asked twice how blind people drive. This might not seem like such a bright question, but I suppose I should expect it since I have gone out of my way to explain to my students how blind people can do anything that you and I can do, they just have different ways of making it work.
Inevitably, the discussion turns to all the senses, and which ones could we do without. I have had about four times longer to think about this than my students, so here is what I think:
Sight - I have watched "The Miracle Worker" and I've always been impressed by the work that Anne Sullivan was able to do with Helen Keller, but here's the kicker: I watched those movies (both versions). With both eyes, albeit through prescription eyeglasses. The idea that I couldn't see whatever it is my son is excited about when he says, "Look at this," makes me shiver.
Hearing - Certainly there are a number of sounds that I could go without hearing for the rest of my life, but Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony is not one of them. The sounds of my family laughing, snoring, joking. And the list just goes on and on. No thanks, I'll keep my ears.
Touch - At first, it seems like a pretty simple thing to let go, but the feeling of my wife's hand in mine or my son's forehead when he might have a fever aren't trivial bits at all. I don't need my sense of touch as much as I revel in it.
Smell - My mother has not smelled anything for decades. The way she has adapted and survived in a world full of odors has always been mildly inspirational to me. Like sounds, there are plenty of stinky things out there that I could be happy to avoid automatically, but then the smell of a wood fire, or an ocean breeze, or melting chocolate - well, it's that list thing again.
Taste - Now I'm at the end of the traditional list, and I guess I have to pick something, so I'll have to let flavors go. This would be painful for me because there are so many things out there that I have enjoyed tasting for all these years. But this one is more practical. I could still smell them, so I wouldn't be able to relish them in my mouth. Considering the number of foods that I avoid because of my finicky tastes, my family would be happy to be able to move me past this. I would probably eat better as a result.
This is a decision I have not come to lightly. I fully expect the Sense Police (Senses Takers?) to be at my door later this evening - hopefully after I have finished my dinner.