touchHere’s to the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, all of it, the whole experience of life on Earth as a human. I’m experiencing a revival of gratitude for the senses because I’ve met someone who is without one of these and who is, beyond doubt, gifted with other ways to experience the world, and who reminded me that, of all the senses, there really is only one – touch.

My young son and I were at a framing shop getting a gift made, looking, touching, smelling, tasting (in his case), and talking about all the woods, canvases, and colors within while we waited.

Gently, out of nowhere, a woman’s voice said, “Your son has a beautiful laugh and you two have a most delightful bond” (complimenting someone’s kid is consistently a sure way into their heart). We had the most amazing conversation. She is an artist who, after experiencing and living through a horrible car accident, suffered brain trauma that left her without a sense of touch.

Our conversation meandered in and around the senses, their value, and what comes of the absence of them. Especially touch. Touch is the light that graces the back of an eye, illuminates the retina, blankets cones, sends messages along the retinal nerves to the brain, all neurons firing across networks of touch, which become our perceptions. Likewise, vibrations wiggle inside ears against drums to give us our perception of life through sound. Taste is touch, too. Is every kind of real connection, in the end, some kind of touch?