Until recently, I had only ever known a world of smells and tastes. Flavors. Spices. Sweets. Sours. Richness. Bitterness. The whole spectrum. But a few weeks ago, all that went away. On January 11, 2022, my sense of smell and taste faded. For one week after that, I couldn’t taste anything. I couldn’t enjoy food. It was scary.
Eating suddenly became a burden. Before that, I had no idea how important smell and taste are to my enjoyment of life. Of course, I had lost them during colds, but that was always such a temporary issue. My smell and taste always returned quickly. They seemed like such small things. Such unimportant things. I took them for granted. After all, I never thought of them as things until I suddenly couldn’t do them anymore.
Like many unexpected aspects of life, this is not without its element of humor. It reminds me of the Michael McIntyre standup routine where he talks about things you don’t even think of as things suddenly becoming impossible when you’re a parent.
The Bourne Similarity
Anyway, as I said, this situation lasted for just one week. But it felt like forever. And it’s still not over. I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was to discover that I could faintly taste something about two weeks ago. Yet it quickly faded and turned to ash in my mouth. Because I wasn’t getting better. I could faintly smell and taste things. However, over the next few weeks, I realized I wasn’t getting back to normal. It was just enough to keep me from going crazy, but it wasn’t even close to what I needed. Some days were better than others. None were fully satisfying, though.
I had a moment like Jason Bourne at the start of The Bourne Identity. On the boat, the sailor who saved his life looks encouragingly at Bourne’s progress. He managed to tie knots, and he showed aptitude in other ways. Unfortunately, none of it is enough to jog his memory about who he is. The core is still missing. Sure, the fringes are there, but not the critical piece that unites them. He can’t even remember his own name.
I can finally relate to Bourne’s outburst when the kindly man happily declares that his memory is starting to come back.
Learning to Appreciate Lost Things
When there’s no promise that what you lost will ever return, it’s hard to have hope. It can be terrifying without a glint of expectation. Thankfully, I do have hope that my lost senses will eventually return.
I’ve learned to appreciate more and more things over the years. By losing them for a time. Here are a few examples:
- After developing shin splints as a teenager in Cross Country and Track and Field, I learned to appreciate being able to run.
- When I mysteriously lost the ability to stand for more than a few minutes at a time for several months at age 20, I learned to appreciate the boundless energy I normally have.
- Once, I became sick and couldn’t move without excruciating pain for several days. As a result, I learned to appreciate being able to sleep on my side.
A Critical Question
There are so many things I have learned to appreciate as a result of losing them. Mercifully, I’ve gotten most of them back. But that’s not always the case for people. Shortly after I met my wife, she encouraged me to read a book called Tuesdays with Morrie. That was an eye-opening experience for someone as young and naïve as I was back then.
It asked an interesting question. If you knew you were dying and each day you would be able to do less than the day before, how would that change your actions? How would it change your perspective on life? It taught Morrie to appreciate life, humble himself, and realize that he is more than just the sum of his parts. His body was dying, but he was more than his body.
I trust that when I lose something, it’s for a reason. It’s because I need to learn something valuable that I couldn’t have if I had retained that thing. When I am once again able to smell and taste to the fullest, I will never take those senses for granted again. I will thank Heavenly Father not only for the food He has given to me, but for the ability to enjoy it.
It’s ironic that God’s gifts sometimes come in the form of withdrawals. He takes something away temporarily to help us appreciate what we always had. And couldn’t see.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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If you’d like to support the Deja Reviewer, please consider donating a few dollars to keep this site going strong. I’ll even send you an original joke if you do! Try it, and prepare to enjoy a good chuckle.