Our Turn: Being adaptable
Could you imagine losing one of your five senses? Not being able to hear music or when someone is talking to you? Not being able to see the colors of the world? That’s something my class had to think about one day during circle in my high school advisory at NCSS. For people who have lost these things, their world is suddenly flipped upside down; they have to learn how to adapt to how strange things are now. After having this discussion in my class, I decided to talk with my uncle who had lost his eyesight four years ago. “When I first lost my sight, I was scared but slowly things sounded more intense. Scents were stronger and more dominant and when I touched things, I could feel more detail; like I could still see everything around me,” my uncle told me. “You may not be able to see anymore, but the world is more beautiful than ever.”
Losing one of your senses can be such a simple accident like listening to your music too loud, or getting burned but how the human body adapts is what is amazing. When you’re younger, your senses are kept closely knit together, but as you get older and your brain develops, they slowly spread apart, though taste and smell are still closely connected. If one of your senses is suddenly not there anymore, your brain starts to make the other ones work together more closely. Every smell is stronger and everything feels finer, sounds or sights intensify. My uncle told me the following: “When I first lost my sight, it was hard on me but then I learned how to rely more on everything else. I started to use my hands more, feeling how certain things felt, memorizing it. It was like I was seeing with my hands and now I am able to live on my own successfully because I learned how to adapt.” My uncle lost his sight at 58 years old. If he learned how to adapt at his age, imagine what a child or a teen could do. Those years are the ones where it is easier to learn and expand your horizons.
Adaptation is important because we wouldn’t still be here if we didn’t learn how to adapt. Every day, people adapt, even if it’s just changing footwear because it’s a new season. At times, we take for granted how easy or difficult it can be to adapt. When Beethoven had lost his hearing as a child, that didn’t hold him back; he still wrote music, beautiful symphonies, even though he could no longer hear what the music sounded like. It’s because his brain had imagined hearing the symphonies as he wrote them, all because he learned it as a child and it stuck.
When you lose one of your senses, it doesn’t mean you stop truly using that sense. My uncle explained this to me in the following: “I still paint. I may not be able to see my paintings anymore, but it doesn’t matter. I know how they look, even though I really don’t. I’m still doing what I love and being blind isn’t going to stop me.” My uncle spoke fondly of his artwork.
How would you live if you lost one of your five senses? If you were able to choose, which one do you think you could part with and how would you learn to adapt?