Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

The intimacy of smell

I was having a conversation with a friend, many years ago when she brought up the intimacy of smell.

She talked about the mechanism by which we smell. She explained that molecules from the thing you're smelling go into your nose and trigger special olfactory receptors in your nasal cavity.

Everyone knows that each person has their own, unique smell.

But have you ever thought about how you feel when you smell someone you love? Or how a persons smell changes depending on their mood?

I love Jane's smell. Its lovely and taking a deep whiff of her hair is immediately soothing to me.

Its interesting because theres a clear link between smell and attraction. We can subconsciously tell if a person is a good genetic match by how much we like their smell.

And Ill walk for miles to smell a newborn baby. Its not a coincidence either. Research has shown that the smell of a newborn triggers the reward centers in our brains, even among people who arent parents.

So, while we don't live in a world of smells the way a dog does, it's a larger part of our identity than we realize.

To smell something is to take a part of it into your body which is about as intimate as it gets.