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Monday, February 4, 2013

#032 - Sense, Sensibility and Perception: There's no accounting for Taste

A colleague of mine has no taste. None at all - either he lost it in early childhood or he never had it, he can't exactly remember. 

I am not being mean about his clothing or sense of style - I am being quite literal. His taste buds do not work at all. When he eats, there is only texture, no flavor. "Food is simply fuel" as he says it - there is no particular enjoyment to any particular food, just the satisfaction of no longer being hungry.

"How horrible," I thought, "to never be able to taste chocolate, fruit or delicious, exotic foods". 

And then a few years ago, as a side effect of some bug going around, I completely lost my sense of taste as well. Usually your sense of taste is diminished when you have a cold, as smell is a big part of the sensation. But it wasn't that - my taste buds actually stopped working completely - and the smell part of it went too. Nothing but texture was left - not even spicy food registered, other than some watering eyes.

Fortunately it only lasted around 4 weeks, but I can tell you I was worried it might not come back. Life without the taste of good food...and chocolate! Of course, I could imagine it very well as I was experiencing it first-hand, but I did not like the prospect of life without tasting. While I suffered the effects, food was definitely just fuel. No enjoyment at all.

I was thinking a lot about my colleague during that time - wondering if he missed it, or simply did not know what he was missing. 

Other friends or colleagues are color-blind, some red/green, some other mixes, and a rare few have strictly black and white vision. A few others are partially or entirely blind, either through accidents, disease or blind since birth. Countless others wear glasses, as I did until laser surgery - when I had reached the point where things were still a bit blurry at the "best" setting on the optician's fancy machine.

Some other friends and family are deaf, either mostly or partly - and my kids certainly have selective hearing when there are jobs to do around the house!

I have not come across anyone personally who has a diminished sense of touch, but I understand that there are many people with this condition as well.

When we are dealing with people, we never know exactly how they each experience the world - what their perspectives are - and not just with the physical senses. 

One thing that is undeniable, though, is that your perception of the world around you affects how you respond in any given situation - and it also affects your approach to projects and challenges.

Listen to the podcast, or read the full article on Gazza's Corner blog.   

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