In Before Times, what fascinated me the most about the sense of smell was the fact that odors often trigger strong memories. (One of the scientific explanations for that is that smells take a direct, unfiltered route to brain areas related to memory and emotion.) Now, after a year of covering the coronavirus pandemic, when I think about the sense of smell, I think of only one thing: losing it through Covid-19 related “anosmia.”
That Covid-centered mindset is typical of the way many people think right now: It’s hard to focus on all the marvelous things that have nothing to do with the pandemic. In her Medium post “Your Nostrils Are Amazing,” Manoush Zomorod reminds us to find awe in the ordinary. Did you know that your nostrils take turns being dominant every three hours? And that your right and left nostrils perceive odor differently?
I tested this out on my coffee. First, I smelled with just my right nostril; then my left. It was like an episode of Song Exploder for my nose: I heard a melody in one nostril and harmony in the other. One whiff was like smelling the higher notes of fruit; the other had earthy undertones. When I brought the two smells together with one big inhale, it was like combining two music tracks into a full song.
Read Manoush’s full post below.