After courageously revealing to the world that I have no sense of smell, it got me thinking- what would be the worst sense to live without?
I can say firsthand that the inability to smell is not the worst. Not even close. It’s fine, really. I mean, I guess there are times when I try super hard to smell something and can’t, and that sort of makes me sad. All in all, though, it’s whatever.
Now here’s an interesting development in the battles of the senses- apparently not being able to touch is a real thing. I just watched a video of a lady whose parents both carried a one in a billion gene. Caused her to not be able to feel anything. Her hands and fingers ended up mangled because she couldn’t feel pain. It was shocking to say the least, pretty eye opening.
Speaking of eye opening, the blind are an obvious contender here. I remember having pink eye as a kid. I woke up with crusty eyes in full panic mode. Couldn’t see a thing for maybe 10 seconds before rubbing my eyes like crazy to unglue the crustiness. I couldn’t handle 10 seconds, can’t imagine a lifetime like that.
The deaf are in the running, too. Ever have to deal with a low talker? It’s painful, putting all your focus on their mouth movements and needing the world to go silent around you to make out what they’re saying. Imagine that, but even less sound, and all day every day. Brutal.
Next up, the mutes. Now I know that taste is actually the fifth sense, but I’m running an audible here and going with the inability to speak. They’re both mouth related, it’s just that one makes food taste bland while the other takes away your ability to verbally communicate, which is kind of a big deal. So yeah, seeing as being mute is way more interesting and tougher to live with, I’m going with that.
Now, how do we go about determining the worst sense to live without? First off, I think there’s an obvious top three: the blind, the deaf and the mutes. My fellow non-smellers will agree, life ain’t so bad. As for not being able to touch, there just isn’t enough of a no-touch community out there to be included in this conversation. It’s sort of like if we were debating the greatest athlete of all-time and someone brought up a 1980s jai alai player. I’m sure he was great, it’s just too niche a sport to be in the conversation amongst guys like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, you know? No hard feel-ings I hope.
Anyway, let’s get into it: What would be the worst- being blind, deaf, or mute? I was able to find three gracious volunteers who are living with those challenges that have agreed to share their life experiences with us. To protect their identity, I’ve given them all fake names that will be used going forward. Representing the blind is Mr. Eagle. For the deaf we have Ms. Krakatoa, and for the mute community, it’s Morgan Freeman (not the Morgan Freeman).
What I was looking for out of these three individuals was brutal honesty. Essentially, what’s it like to live as you do? What makes it so challenging? Based on these answers, I figured this three person sample size would give us more than enough information to once and for all decide which sense is the worst to be without!
Let’s start with Mr. Eagle. Earlier this week, I sent him this written questionnaire:
- What is the worst part about being blind?
- What are some elements about being blind that most people don’t even realize?
- Are there any positives about being blind? If yes, what?
- If you could trade your blindness for losing all four of your other senses, would you?
- What’s one thing that’s been described to you that you’d most love to be able to see?
Much to my chagrin, the questionnaire was never answered.
I figured I needed to take a different approach going forward. That’s why I decided to phone Ms. Krakatoa.
Unfortunately, despite several attempts, my calls were never answered.
Next up was Morgan Freeman. When I phoned Mr. Freeman, he was cordial enough to actually answer my call. That’s all he did, though. Here’s the transcript of our phone call:
Me: Hello, is this Morgan Freeman?
Me: Hello? Mr. Freeman?
Me: I was under the impression that this was the number for Morgan Freeman? Is that not correct? I’m phoning about the survey you agreed to be a part of where you were to provide details into what the life of a mute is like. Can you speak to that?
Eventually I had to give up on Mr. Freeman as well.
So, what can we make of these testimonials? Well, at first glance, seeing as we didn’t receive any actual answers, you’d think our study was a colossal failure. A waste of time, even. A disaster, some might say. Not me, though. I can read between the lines. That unanswered questionnaire from Mr. Eagle spoke to me in a profound way. And what about Ms. Krakatoa not even picking up the phone? Talk about courage. Let’s not forget Mr. Freeman, refusing to answer a single question during what was a rather confusing and frustrating phone call. One word- fearless.
Maybe I was going about this debate the wrong way. It’s not about what way of living is the worst or hardest, is it? You see, everyone’s journey in life is different. We all experience our own share of difficulties. What’s most important is understanding that everyone is dealing with something. So try this: Close your eyes for a day. Plug your ears for a week. Don’t talk for a month. Maybe then, you’ll all have a better appreciation for some of the challenges other people are facing every day. And maybe then, we’ll make our world just a little bit better.
But yeah being blind would definitely be the worst.