Monday, December 29, 2008

Sensory awareness

So, I've been noticing my skin and how it feels since I got back. Well, all along really, but one thing I realize is how much more I am aware of it. I expect that my brain had become quite bored with 18 years of sameness and craved some new kinesthetic input.

  1. I became quite used to wearing light loose clothing (and not much of it) in Hawaii. The big difference is footwear. I absolutely hated the idea, two mornings ago, of putting on socks and shoes for the trip home on the plane. I thought about wearing flipflops until the last second, in the boarding lounge, but decided that would require too much effort, so put the flipflops in the luggage and donned the socks and shoes. But guess what I saw in the lounge? At least two people had worn flipflops from their condos, and were sitting in the boarding lounge digging out and putting on their socks and shoes. The first idea would have been the better one, and socially facilitated to boot.
  2. Since I've been back, my feet, which have become reacquainted with the joys of perfect shoeless bareness and freedom and complete warmth, have been allowed to go without slippers. When they get cold, I can "feel" it, and they are put into slippers. I'm just more aware of my feet, period. They feel good!
  3. My skin still feels warm from having had a taste of sunshine and direct radiation on it, in all the parts that had some. Back mostly. My back still feels deliciously warm, in the zone where it became tanned.
  4. I feel better inside myself, whatever self is: my working hypothesis is that by stimulating the skin nerve endings with climatic warmth, and light, not just the ones in the eye-balls, there is a new congruence or even maybe reacquaintance of the visual sensory cortex with the kinesthetic sensory cortex, and some neuroplasticity has occurred, neuroplasticity of the most overdue sort. The thing is, I had gotten very very very far away from sunbathing. For so many reasons:
  • Skin cancer. I don't care as much anymore about this, as I've gotten old enough that I imagine I will outlive the chances of it starting up then killing me.
  • Having aged and fattened and become more shy about degree of body coverage. In Hawaii no one, and I mean no one, cares, or at least there is little or no gawking. The whole culture of the place is that the body is exactly where you live and operate from and it does not matter what it looks like. The culture there is not a snob, in other words.
  • Here in Vancouver, even when it's hot out, it's such a rare event that most people are not in the habit of lying around in the sun. So the opportunities that do exist are missed, except I suppose for those with their own pool in their own yard to lie beside. Not a fact of life for most, so most everyone stays covered. Plus... it's always cool here, even on hot days, because as soon as you go in the shade or a cloud goes across, bam, it's immediately cold enough to be comfortable in ordinary cool-weather clothing and footwear. Poor brains! In cold climates they miss out on a lot of sensory integration! And then this behaviour gets reinforced by culture.
  • I feel I reconnected to the sensory self I was as a child, with complete bodily freedom, few clothes and no shoes. More neuroplasticity there, through the arrow of time.
One little detail I forgot, a brilliant sensory cap to the entire vacation, was the big rainbow over the airport. It seemed to last for a very long time, at least an hour. As the plane took off it was visible out one of the windows in my line of sight. Nice send-off Hawaii - thanks for that.

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