“What was that?” My son stuck his head through the kitchen door as I squealed, taking in the scene. The open door of the washing machine… the blue work-out pants dangling from my hand… the dead mouse at my feet… His eyes widened, with a flicker of unease, entirely out of proportion to the presence of the small corpse, and a hint of suspicion, as if he did not want to hear the answer to his question. “Where did that come from?”
“Out of your track-suit bottoms…”
“God’s honest truth…” Our eyes met in mute comprehension as we both replayed the events of the previous morning. I was taking his morning coffee through to the bedroom, and, seeing his work out-trousers in the hallway, I shouted through to ask if they were for the laundry and “…there’s not a dead mouse in them or anything?”
“Er…no. That’s a bit of a random question! Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know.” And I didn’t. Thinking about it, though, and given the propensity of the resident feline huntress for bringing in birds, I didn’t think it was too unreasonable. He could have covered a corpse and left it for me to dispose of. Why a mouse, though? I had no idea. I picked up the trousers and deposited them in the washing machine to await a full load. It was not until the next morning, when I was pulling things out again, that the mouse dropped out of them, curled cold at my feet.
“That,” said my son, “is seriously weird.”
It might just have been a bit weird, but he had already told me to get out of his head several times that morning. Again. It is a daily thing. I am not alone, though, in second-guessing sons or being able to predict what they are about to say, or knowing what song they are playing in their heads. Mums can do that. He and his brother have the same kind of rapport, but take it to a whole new level of randomness. It was only ‘seriously’ weird because it was such an odd occurrence and had nothing to do with how well I know him or not. He doesn’t usually keep dead mice in his trousers.
It started one of ‘those’ discussions again. We dismissed the idea of a possible glimpse of tail beneath the trousers in the hall. If I’d have been able to see a tail at all, the mouse would have fallen out of the trousers, or been visible when I gingerly picked up the soggy article to carry it to the kitchen. So how did I ‘know’ to ask if there was a dead mouse in there?
Myself, I think there is a perfectly natural explanation, but one that goes a little outside what we generally class as normality. I think it also goes some way to explain why mothers have that almost uncanny, and often wholly inconvenient, knack of reading their children’s minds. You could call it ESP… extra sensory perception, but with the emphasis on the ‘extra’.
We are all aware of the five physical senses and understand their scope and limitations…or we think we do. They are the mechanical means by which we gather information about our world. Their parameters have been measured and are understood, at least within the limits of current knowledge. A number of ‘non-traditional senses’ are now widely recognised, including balance, proprioception and the ability to sense time, choice and familiarity, bringing the number of physical senses up into double figures. Buddhism also includes mind as a sensory organ and it is through these extended physical senses that I feel many ‘seriously weird’ things may be explained.
I believe the physical senses, including mind, can work together in ways we are yet to fully comprehend. The minute observations we can make through our physical interaction with the world, coupled with the knowledge and familiarity of a person or situation that we bring to any given moment, may allow us to ‘read’ that moment in ways that appear ‘super-natural’. Which explains that annoying knack mothers may have where their children are concerned…and might go a long way to explaining some part of those phenomena often seen as ‘seriously weird’, like telepathy of some aspects of psychism. Or perhaps they too are simply extended senses.
Unlikely as it seems on the surface, perhaps there was a smell of mouse, too faint to notice consciously, but which registered in my mind. Perhaps there was a subliminal odour of death. Perhaps, too, there are other senses of which we are as yet unaware… we seem to be adding to the list all the time. Maybe it is in this uncharted realm of sensory perception that we will find what allows us to tell the difference at a glance between sleep and death. It is not simply a matter of whether a subject is breathing or not. Newly dead creatures may still move as their bodies settle… but you can see when life has left.
These extended, ‘extra’ senses are part of who we are. They may once have been commonly relied upon for survival, but maybe we have lost our awareness of them as the dangers of a wild world have receded. It doesn’t mean they have ceased to exists or be of value. In our search for knowledge and answers, we have classified the senses we could pinpoint and measure. It is only in recent years that the five traditional senses have had others added to their number.
It makes me wonder just how much more we are capable of than we realise… and how much really paying attention might reveal, both about our world and ourselves.