What’s that Smell?

One of the things I used to love about walking the streets of Seoul was that every few feet you’d get a blast to the face of some unique and different smell. sometimes it would be pleasant like the smell of coffee or a BBQ house grilling meat. At other times you’d get the shock of smelling an open sewer grate. Even the first moment when I step out of the airport the smell of the air is different and it was one of the things that I always remembered and loved about Korea.

Scent is probably the least appreciated of our senses, something we tend to focus on the least and not really even think about on a regular basis. Throughout our daily lives we tend to pay the most attention to things that we see around us from the words on a computer screen to everything that happens around us. Even our memories are image centric. Next would be sound, from the voices of those that we love to a song to the honking horns in city traffic. Sound is the second sense that we rely on in our lives. Next would be touch as we’ve grown used to the creature comforts of central air conditioning and soft cotton on our skins we crave the need to be physically comfortable in our sense of touch. It is a sense that can bring surprising joy in our lives even though we don’t really give it much thought. Even the near orgasmic feeling of scratching that certain spot on our backs can be amazing. Second to last would be taste. I would say for the modern human taste is the sense that we are focusing on more and more. We are trying to refine it with the foods we eat and the things that we drink. Instead of the basics of sweet, sour, salty and bitter we are trying to fine notes of vanilla or blackberries in our wine. The nuances and layers of flavor in a certain dish or the hint of something in a drink.

Ugh, still ugh.

Our sense of smell has been getting a bit disregarded and forgotten. We’ve basically made it a sense where we shift it to either a good smell or a bad one. We don’t really care about the nuances of smells as much as we do in the other senses. Yet, the sense of smell is the one where the simplest thing can bring forth the most vivid memories and feelings. From the smell of cookies baking we can suddenly have a flashback of our childhood homes and mom baking a treat for us. The smell of a perfume or cologne can bring up images of a long forgotten love. The scent of tequila for me still causes a gag reflex from a night of overdrinking in Tijuana during my college years. The triggering effect of smells is quite amazing and something that still remains an often ignored sense.

Originally posted 2017-01-31 11:05:56.

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