Yesterday, I watched Jill Bolte Taylor's TED talk about her stroke, and about left/right brain functions. Then I walked down the street to buy a cookie. I tried to experience the world as she described in her talk, and it worked! I enjoyed the buzz of human activity in the crowded, noisy sandwich shop in a way I have seldom enjoyed it before.
I usually “zone out” by retreating into specific thoughts, like holding my breath and diving underwater (computer programmers are very good at this). In fact, I usually experience the world that way—I am seldom on the surface, noticing my surroundings. It makes me very quick at logical reasoning (useful or not), and very bad at experiencing the world of my senses. I think you would be surprised how little I notice of the world around me if you could step inside my thoughts!
During my walk, I managed to “zone in” and float on the surface - noticing only the shapes and colors of writing or the sounds of talking. It was a very interesting experience. I understood for the first time how some people find being in a crowd energizing—when the sounds, the music, the din of overlapping conversations were not an unwelcome distraction to be blocked out, they became a welcome presence of activity, of the energy of life happening around me. It was fascinating, and oddly relaxing.
I realized during that walk that I risk information addiction. Or left-brained, language-based concept addiction. And that I need nature—somehow the colors, shapes, and and movement of natural things are calming—almost like they seep in through the eyes and ears and gently press the "degauss button" on my brain. Or perhaps it's more like turning the etch-a-sketch upside down and letting a thousand tiny pebbles wipe away the lines and figures.