April 7, 2020

Who goes here? Man, he has some range!


Continued from last week…


Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery.   Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

-Alice Morse Earle


Taste is something that I don’t use except to decide what I want to eat and then enjoy it. There are only five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (also known as savory). The rest of our gustatory experience is due to the sense of smell – there is not a lot of distance between our mouths, where the food is, and our noses and they are connected. If I try something new to eat, I’ll put it up close to my nose and tentatively smell it to make sure I want to taste it, then put it in my mouth, taste it and decide if I want to eat it. When I give Waldo something new to eat, he’ll accept it in his mouth, put it on the ground and sniff it, then, if it’s up to snuff, he’ll eat it. Taste, for Waldo, is subordinate to smell.

There is one last sense, a sixth sense – and I’m not talking about ESP. For want of a better term, let me call it the mind sense. It is the sense that allows us to experience our internal world – thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings of all kinds, our internal dialogue, all those things that happen exclusively inside our heads. You could call this self-awareness and be done with it, but you can also think of this awareness as being possible because of a sixth sense that allows us to experience our inner world like the other five senses allow us to experience the outer world. I’m pretty sure that Waldo also has a mind sense, but his inner experience is bound to be different. I wonder if that difference is more one of quantity than kind — his inner world would be dominated by smell-o-vision tinted glasses and he would probably have no internal dialogue that I would recognize as such. Underneath that, though, the rest just might be very similar.

We’re back home, I’m in my chair with the legs up. I’m going to try to channel Waldo. When I do this, I’m going to suppress my inner dialogue (because he doesn’t have one) and try not to label everything. I will fail because I’m going to describe what I’m experiencing and that requires words. But I’ll try.

I close my eyes and stop the stream of language that incessantly runs through my head. I can only do it intermittently, but I can do it for short periods. I picture what I just saw Waldo doing and what I’ve seen him do before. I imagine I’m seeing the world through his eyes and behind his nose.

I jump out of the thing that magically carries us [the car] to the place where we walk every day [the rail-trail]. I am so ready for this. Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go! Wait! I need a stick. There’s one right next to me on the ground. Quick sniff. Smells okay. I grab it between my teeth. I wait at the edge of the place that’s black, hard and has a smell like nothing in the rest of the outside [the street] where the big scary noisy things [cars] with funny black feet [tires] rush past and make bad smells from their butts. Come on, come on, come on! Let’s go! Finally, I hear “Okay.”   I’m off, across the black hard place and down the place that has all the interesting smells [the rail-trail]. I want to run so bad! Just let it out and go as fast as I can. My muscles are aching to pound where I run [the ground] as hard as possible, but something pulls me back, the thing that always curbs my style [the leash].

I can smell familiar stuff and some that is not. Hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of different odors. Always there and always changing. There’s that smell that’s strongest when I’m near a soft gooey place [mud], the one that’s heaviest near the little flat things [dead decaying leaves] that sometimes fly when the air moves [wind], the nasty smells that are worse when I’m near the black hard place [tarmac] and – whoa! What is that smell? It seems to be coming from that place over there that’s sort of like the big sticks stuck in the walking place [trees] where the animals that have long fluffy tails that I can never come close to catching [squirrels] hang out and the little animals that can jump so high into the air [birds] live. But it’s way different [a fence post]. It’s not very high and it has sticks [fence rails] that connect it to other sticks nearby [other fence posts]. Sniff, sniff, that smell is dog pee, no doubt about it. Gotta get closer to that weird stick [fence post] and check it out. Sniff, sniff. Yep. Male dog, older than me and bigger. Had some breakfast that tastes like the food I used to eat [chicken flavored]. Sniff, sniff, seems emotionally unstable [bipolar disorder] and kinda edgy [in a manic phase]. Has a mean streak and is hurtful too. Sniff, sniff, but pretty dumb. Definitely nasty and pushy and wants to dominate and control everything. Somebody I want to avoid. Sniff, sniff, his name is Trump.

Oops, snuck a little politics in there.

Whatever Waldo’s real experience is like, one thing is certain. It’s in the moment. Here and now.

Sigh. I’ll never be as good at that as he is, with or without nasal superpower.


Sniff, sniff. I dunno, Waldo. I got nothing.

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