Amazingly, surgeons replaced a woman’s larynx allowing her to independently speak, breathe and smell after more than a decade. Her gratitude in the story inspired me. She said, "It's just been a really, really unbelievable experience smelling freshly cut grass. The air, breathing the air. Taking your garbage out—that's a real good smell."
I can totally relate. Back in July I had a painful eye injury that left me blind for 2 weeks. The ordeal made me realize:
- How I had taken my vision (and my whole health) for granted
- The amazing capabilities of the human body
- That medical science is the bomb
- My friends and family are amazing, and how dependent I am upon their love and support
- That it's not the end of the world if I were to lose my vision. Sure, I would have to re-learn how to live and function, but I could and would readjust.
Talk about a reset—any other little worries or anxieties I had before the accident instantly disappeared with new context. And even now just being able to see the words I write at this very moment overwhelms me. It’s amazing to stop taking things for granted.
All of this reminds me of another article on how time speeds up as we get older for the very same reason—we start taking things for granted. As a kid, when things happen for the first time, they are new and novel and we pause to soak in the magnificence. As desensitized adults, we allow things to start passing us by.
My favorite philosopher Krishnamurti touches on this topic very nicely in one of his speeches. He said, “Awaken all your senses to their highest degree so that you look at the world with all your senses… Man has become dull through repetition, through tradition, through the oppression…You have gradually lost all sensitivity, all energy to create…[To have] the drive, the beauty, one must have great sensitivity. You cannot have great sensitivity if every sense is not fully functioning, fully aware.”
So just how would waking all of your senses affect you? How would looking at everything around you with renewed appreciation change your life? For me, I’ve found a lot of benefit in re-evaluating my world…and it’s simply added perspective that brings positivity and energy.
The challenge is just how to stop taking the things for granted. When I asked myself how can I personally become fully conscious, I remembered that song lyric, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” So for those of you blessed with the following, here’s an exercise to help cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
- Vision: What would your life be like without eyes? Who would you miss seeing among your family or friends? What visual treats—art, sunsets, movies, puppies, would you miss most?
- Speech: What if you couldn't say "I love you?"
- Smell: What smells of people, food, or nature would you yearn for?
- Hearing: What sounds/music/voices would you miss most?
- Mobility: How would not having hands or legs affect you?
And remember that if any of these things were to happen, your life wouldn’t be over, you would be reborn. You would view the world with new perspective.