We are deprived of our senses. At once we are numbed by overstimulation, and left senseless by isolation. Our sense of touch is wrapped in clothes that never let us feel the motion of air, the brush of things we walk past, grass and stone and dirt under foot, and we hide in houses from rain and wind. Our vision is bombarded by bright lights and flashing movement everywhere, constantly passing cars keep our attentions shifting and our focus falters.
There is a constant barrage of noise from fans and heat-pumps, traffic and city-sounds. It’s mind numbingly overwhelming. We adapt, we stop feeling the detail, but we’ve lost fidelity.
The most deeply felt and most clearly remembered moments in my life are where my senses are woken, the noise gone for long enough to let me turn the coping filters of life off, and experience the raw sensation fully.
One such moment is after a sweat-lodge, where after an hour of intense heat and humidity in near-total darkness, mostly surrounded by people sitting still, not making noise, I stepped out and lay in the grass. I could feel every blade, and then water poured on me from above to cool off was the most intense sensation I have ever experienced, every drop registered separately, and the boundary between senses was completely gone. The impact of the drops wasn’t just felt but heard, seen and tasted. It’s not that I saw the impact, but that the memory of the event is visual and auditory, not just of touch. I have a suspicion that such synaesthesia is normal in human development, but turned off by overstimulation, the brain trying to cope with too many inputs to be able to interpret any with full clarity.
I wonder if the feeling of being numbed either by overstimulation or by isolation interacts with sexuality — how much is just wanting touch? How much fulfillment can we get just by interacting more carefully and fully with our environment, getting rid of the noise and focusing on the important things fully?