The Nose Knows

Often in life we only notice a particular matter when it is going wrong. For me, for whatever reason, my nose has long been the source of concern and observation based on the many and quirky ways that it has gone wrong. For example, for several years I have dealt with a rather nasty fungal infection in the nose related to mold that shrugged off 2% bactroban as if it was nothing. For even longer, as long as I can remember, I have had to deal with frequent nosebleeds as a result of a confluence of factors, ranging from a high amount of stress to a genetic quirk that has blood vessels in the nose too close to the skin, leading to an ease in having those blood vessels burst. The nose is also quite interesting for its own reasons, apart from any issues that may be involved in it.

It is not insignificant that my favorite animal [1] has a rather legendary nose, which is a bit ironic given its reputation for its smelly self-defense. It is, however, the sensitive sense of smell of the skunk that leads it to explore to assiduously and to be so keen on doing whatever is necessary to satisfy its curiosity and find the source of the smells that draw it so powerfully. The fact that a skunk has a very keen sense of smell combined with a nonexistent homing sense as well as particularly poor vision leads to an interesting set of circumstances that is not so dissimilar from my own life, at least if one takes the nose to be a metaphorical sort of matter.

The nose plays a critical role in the sense of taste. Even though we consider the sense of smell and the sense of taste to be separate, in reality they are very closely related. If the sense of smell does not work, for whatever reason, the sense of taste will not exist as well. In that sense, the sense of taste is dependent on the functioning of the sense of smell in a way that other senses are not as dependent on each other. For example, the loss of sight does not in any way harm the sense of hearing, and in fact it may even hone it as one sense takes on even greater sensitivity in order to attempt to counterbalance shortcomings in other areas. As we attempt to balance lives, we have to consider the importance of different factors, even the humble nose.

Why would I think about the nose today? For reasons either related to the cold and dry nature of the air around (or the extremely dry air in my house or workplace), or related to the seasonal suffering of the fungus inside my nasal passages, or a combination of the two (or something else entirely), today I spent a fair amount of the day having to deal with blood as well as dry and dessicated nasal skin clogging my nose and making it a bit difficult to breathe. Being someone who tends to try to observe and ponder on the conditions of life, from the most mundane of life events to the most notable, I will ponder whether this sort of circumstance dies down over the next few days or whether it lasts for longer. When I visited Santiago, Chile in a particularly disastrous trip in the Spring of 2009, the particulate matter in the air made my nose bleed severely every day I was there. Combined with an extremely stressful personal situation, and the fact that I could not get any sleep either, my nose was the harbringer of a very unpleasant time. So it was today.


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to The Nose Knows

  1. It just occurred to me that your penchant for the skunk, relative to how it interfaces with the nose, doesn’t fall far from the tree. My own favorite animal is famous for its outstanding proboscis–the elephant. Flanked by ivory tusks, the nose serves many functions and performs multiple tasks. Most striking, though, is how similar its use is to the skunk’s when imminent danger is perceived. The skunk uses its defense mechanism to affect our sense of smell (our noses), while the elephant uses its trunk (or nose) as a trumpet to sound an alarm. Very interesting indeed…

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