We are a searching people. Attracted to the mystery of the rare, we dig ever deeper into the earth to bring forth treasures that sparkle and shine. We hold in high esteem inventors and thinkers who dazzle with their ingenuity and creative ideas. What we cannot have or cannot be, influences how we feel about ourselves and perhaps it’s why we rejoice in times our thoughts and actions connect in a special way. Thomas Edison said it was ‘one of the three great essentials to achieve anything.’ Emerson, that it is ‘genius dressed in working clothes,’ and Goethe described it as the ‘genius of humanity.’ It’s what we are often convinced we have so much of and others don’t—common sense.
I thought I had a clear concept of it, but two of the three quotes include the word, ‘genius.’ If that’s true, could it explain why it’s so uncommon and why we don’t have quite as much as we lead ourselves to believe? Maybe, the answer is in the definition. Before reading on, take a few moments to joint down your thoughts…
Well, what did you come up? Maybe, some of these ring true for you. Common sense is the understanding required to use sound judgement. The sensible, practical sense necessary to make good decisions, or an internal sense, regarded as the common bond or center of the five senses. It was this last one that got me thinking. What do sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing share in common?
Stumped, and lost between somewhere, nowhere, and elsewhere, my dog, taking a break between naps, wandered over and rested her head on my knee. She sat and listened as I pounded out my thoughts. Our senses are like siblings who love each other. They support each other and when one is weak or disabled, another becomes stronger to compensate for the loss. One quarter of the human brain is used for visual processing; far more than any other sense, but the wrongly convicted on eyewitness testimony, demonstrates we cannot trust what we see. So, what can we trust?
In the dog world, their vision is not as good as ours, except in low light where it’s better. Their sense of smell is anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive (depending on the breed), and they can hear at 4 times the distance with a wider frequency range. They know long before we do that someone is coming home, can detect serious illnesses in us, and understand all our emotions. Beyond the impressive numbers is an awareness not clouded by their senses.
Perhaps the answer is in what we call a sixth sense; an intuition fed by the senses, but acting independently. We can’t explain it, but something feels different when it occurs. We see clearly, speak with wisdom, and feel a certainty beyond conscious thought. It’s a glorious feeling and we glow when someone tells us we have it. So, why is it so fleeting, and is it the answer to what we perceive as common sense? There has to be more.
Before we are human beings, we are spiritual beings. Like our senses, we compensate for losses. When we have trouble trusting, faith provides a lift. When love is missing, hope strengthens our resolve. When we disable our human senses, we are in touch with what we share in common as a people—a journey…a home to return to…love beyond our wildest imagination—a gem deep within our core—a spiritual common sense. A veil is lifted and the clouds clear; we hear a voice inside; taste the presence of perfect love, and touch the divine.
The dog is sleeping again. I know when she wakes, her tail will wag. She will be pleased to see me, and not because her senses tell her too. She doesn’t think about what is sensible, practical, or looking for a common value between what her nose smells and ears hear. There is no sound judgement, because she doesn’t judge at all.
Perhaps, that is our answer. On our journey, as we decide which direction to take, we will see a sign pointing to the somewhere between nonsense and common sense, where a gift is waiting—an uncommon sense—the pure genius of love.