Smell

Boca's Nose Knows

The sciencey people say that smell (usually regarded as a sense that is kind of marginal in importance) is actually the most evocative of human sensory faculties, subconsciously tying memories and experiences through the power of odor. Take the smell of vanilla, it might kindle long forgotten recollections of a summer day baking chocolate chip cookies with Grandma while bright sunlight streamed through lattice glass windows. Or perhaps an acrid whiff of gasoline stirs images of family road trips, siblings being pressed together in hot and muggy cars at gas stations with eager smiles for an ocean sighting in the future. Smell is integral to our perception of our world and our storing of distant but consequential memories of our existence, a way to shortcut to deeply embedded files in the harddrive of the human brain.

Smell is a way we subliminally categorize our world.
Unfortunately, due to a inauspicious combination of violently belligerent allergies and a nasal passage that was mutated to disallow air passage in one nostril, I am not only a radical mouthbreather, but I also am unable to smell.

Now when I say that I cannot smell, I mean it in the sense that it is like the world is covered in several layers of thick wool blankets. I can only detect the most powerful of smells, vanilla and gasoline being among the tiny handful of scents I can perceive through the dense fog of hyposmia. Its kind of funny that my mother is a bona-fide Super-Sniffer who can detect even the most infinitesimal of odors with her finely tuned schnoz. I guess the super-sniffer trait is recessive.

Anyway, I never really noticed that my lack of smell was so pronounced until I took this corticosteriod medicine for a week before I had to get allergy shots and suddenly, I could smell. To put it in perspective, I was like the blind man Jesus healed who had never seen before and for the first time ever could discern the visual world. Well for that week, my eyes (or in this case, nasal passages) were open and I could discern the multitude of odors that made up our subliminal world.

It was a revelation. My friends thought I was insane when I ran up to them with a feverish look in my eyes and shoved Skittles in their faces as I blathered on about how Skittles actually smelled like their respective fruit and I could finally understand the complaints of my classmates when they protested about the reek of formaldehyde in the biology classrooms. I suddenly could catch a whiff of cranberries and be immediately transported back to Thanksgiving where I got my first bike. It was wonderful!

But like all good things, my week of olfactory excellence, came to an end, and a day of the medicine, I was back to my cloud of allergies and all the fragrances of the world were stifled under mucus and pollen. I was very bummed about that, but then I realized that I could see, and hear, and touch. I laughed at my good fortune of being born with a pair of eyes and ears that could hear. As evocative as smell is, I’d never trade it for the ability to see a sunset, or hear a sonata. I thank God for making me the way he did and I have no right to ever complain!

Man of Steel

Courtesy Legendary Pictures

Courtesy Legendary Pictures

I went and saw the new movie “Man of Steel” in theaters today. (NOTE: I may have spoilers in here so read at your own risk). Now I am a big superhero movie geek, so I am not entirely unbiased when it comes to movies like this one, but I must admit, it was really good. But even though I am a sucker for unabashed hero vs. villain throwdowns and epic explosions, I have to say, on the heels of Ms. Gwen’s talk on Saturday, this might be one of the first superhero movies that has made me think about what it really means to be a superhero. As Superman is THE superhero, he’s probably the best example to examine.

So let’s take a look the character of this movie’s incarnation of the preeminent man in blue spandex, Clark Kent. Now Clark, our Superman is an alien who has pretty much been endowed with godlike powers. He can fly into the stars, crush steel with his bare hands, shoot laserbeams out of his eyeballs, do pretty much anything. But unlike other great superheroes that have graced the box offices of America, Superman has a singular quality that makes him different. He has another ability, that many would probably not notice on first examination, what I call Super-Humility.

Take a look at any one of Superman’s actions in “Man of Steel”; all are infused with an impossible sense of modesty that is just astounding. Superman is pretty much a god but he never loses his temper and never fights back when a puny earthling slights him or insults him. There’s a scene in the movie where Clark Kent is a kid and a schoolyard bully is pushing him down on a chain-link fence and punching him. Now Clark can easily end it; he could destroy this thug with his pinky but instead he turns the other cheek and allows the kid to keep taunting him. Somehow, Superman is able to selflessly rise above all the hatred and fear thrown at him because he only wants to help people.

It doesn’t even end at Super-Humility either, Superman is also completely under authority, despite the fact that he is in all respects, completely above everyone else in everything. There’s another scene in the movie where Superman is about to confront the villain to save the world and he has a plan to stop the evil machines that are about to destroy Earth. But Superman doesn’t just take control and do it, after explaining his plan to the army general, he then asks the man’s permission to go ahead with it. To reiterate, Superman did not need the general’s permission, but he asked him first anyway because he respected the man’s authority.

Probably the most shocking example of Superman’s respect for authority is when he is younger and his adoptive father charges him not to reveal his powers because he doesn’t think the world is ready. Then a tornado is coming and his father goes back into it to rescue people and is about to be killed. Clark is about to go back and save him, which would reveal his powers, but his father looks back and tells him not to. Clark loves his father and you can see the anguish on his face but he obeys his dad and doesn’t save him. What other superhero would trust like that or obey like that.

What other person would obey their authority even when it lead to somebody’s death.┬áThen I realized as we were driving home, Jesus did that. Jesus had godlike power and turned the other cheek. Jesus obeyed his father even when it lead to death on a cross. The Krytonians kept on saying how it was Superman’s responsibility to be an ideal that the people of Earth could look up to and I realized that Jesus was that to us. What made Superman a hero is what make the characteristics of Christ christlike: Love, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Thankfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Ms. Gwen’s talk suddenly took on more dimensions for me. Like she said, we are superheroes because we have those characteristics that Christ had, that superhuman ability to love even when we are confronted with hate. We have superpowers. Being in God’s spirit makes us superheroes able to fight against evil for His glory, just like Ms. Gwen said. It’s just so cool.

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