Category Archives: Experiencing the Unpleasant Through the Senses

Color Perception

I start paying a lot of attention to my vision right before a visit to the ophthalmologist. In the days leading up to it, I find myself carefully observing my eyesight- what I see, how well I see, how dry my eyes are… I get caught up in following my floaters–almost voraciously, obsessively tracking those grey and black amorphous blobs, dancing in a sound-free symphony. My latest visit was on Thursday, and immediately after getting a clean bill of eye health- retina intact, no change in vision- I’m faced with the ocular issue of the century:



….. Is the dress white and gold, and black and blue?

white and gold dress black and blue dress

white & gold? black or blue? You know, THAT dress, uggghhh!!

If only I had seen this societal crazy-making before my ophthalmologist visit. I surely would have asked him about it. Though I may not really care what the “science” behind it is. I don’t like for my senses to be played with this way!


Nostalgic Odors- Play-Doh

There’s just something about a container of Play-Doh that brings me right back to childhood. Sure, the familiar logo and yellow canister plays a role, but the main thing that transports me is definitely the smell of that stuff. Even though it’s not the most pleasant smell, there is something very comforting about it. So much so that a former colleague of mine brought in a couple of mini canisters in to work a few years ago so that we could have the “back to childhood” experience when things got too rough at the office.

It’s been over two years since I’ve been at that job, and today I just so happened to be clearing out some old things. I came upon that mini canister. I smiled to myself as I remembered the comfort it brought me.


I cracked it open:

Play-Doh open cover

I did what anyone else in my position would have done:

play-doh, sniff

Going in for The Sniff!

And even took the Play-Doh out of its container and gave it a squeeze:

Squeeze it!

Squeeze it!



And marveled that it was still soft, after all those years, and enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.

Stargazer Lilies

Today’s post focuses on the senses being engaged in both a pleasing and unpleasing way. A prime example is the Stargazer Lily. I find them beautiful to look at, especially the ones that were recently gifted to me. They stayed folded within themselves for a couple of days before slowly starting to bloom out and reveal their big, beautiful white petals and center.


photo 1 (16)


Carefully looking at all its contours, one could quite simply go into a reverie.
Until, of course, the moment when met with its fragrance. How could such a beautiful flower emit such an odor? A heavy, waxy, funereal smell.

This got me to reflect on the idea that not all sensory experiences have to be pleasant. The very instant that I have been moved by a sensory trigger, whether pleasurable or otherwise, is something to be noted. Our senses take us on journeys not only to deliriously sensual escapes but also to nostalgic corners of our past, to faded memories and unfinished business. Our senses allow us to experience all of life, and use those experiences to learn more about ourselves and the world in which we live. It is through our senses that we learn which herbs and berries are poisonous, which animals to stay away from, and how to “feel” a storm that is approaching.

So I decided today to embrace the unappealing odor of the stargazer lily and remember that with every sniff, I can reflect in such a way that it becomes a teachable moment. Perhaps that smell is a cry to look more closely at the petals. To practice patience and stay open-minded about what could be next. stargazer lillies


stargazer lilies2

2 stargazer lilies