I was walking through the woods when my eye glanced at a beautiful wildflower. I had likely passed dozens like it before but somehow this one managed to snag my attention. I paused to capture a few photos. As I briefly flipped through the images sorting and deleting, I kept the one below. I loved the way one has to work to really see it because that’s how it felt when I discovered it. The act of viewing matches the act of capturing the image:
Recently while I’ve been out exploring nature, I’ve caught myself taking it for granted and forgetting to pick my head up to look around, breath in the mountain air, and be present. It baffles me how quickly humans can adapt to both wonderful and horrible situations. It begs the question I’ve asked myself and talked about here repeatedly: what do I want to stay sensitive to? Put another way in this context, what do I want to always marvel at?
With that said, I’m aware that this ability to adapt is directly tied to our capacity for healing and coping. This adaption is why I can carry around the knowledge of being born through surrogacy without succumbing to the sometimes heaviness of it all. With that said, I know my fight to stay sensitive and present over the years has also likely accidentally prolonged suffering when I’ve stayed too present for the wrong thing.
In any case, I’m pretty fascinated right now by this tug of war of emotions as I try to desensitize myself to this strange isolation period the pandemic is bringing while attempting to remain extra sensitive to the beauty that surrounds me. I know there’s the idea that you can’t numb yourself to only negative feelings without numbing yourself to all feelings but, day by day, I’m finding moments to try to selectively tune my sensitivity. It’s far from perfect but it’s been a neat exploration to try to build some emotional muscles around.
Currently, it’s been quite simple depending on what I’m feeling until I can build up greater capacity for nuance. In beautiful moments, I remind myself to pause and step into them more deeply. Taking photos tends to help facilitate this so I always bring my camera with me on hikes. In painful moments, I remind myself to step back to see the bigger context of my life. Writing postcards/notes/texts to others always helps me reframe outside of my existence and put feelings of isolation to good use — if I’m feeling this way surely others are too. In both cases, I don’t step away. I simply shift my perspective. It’s a lot of stepping for my little feet at the end of the day 😉