Succumbed to Numb

When it comes to my hands, I hate wearing gloves. When biking or snowboarding I would only wear gloves because my hands would freeze otherwise, but I’ve never liked wearing gloves per se. Yet I had compartmentalized my feet into their own live-in boxes where sensory experience was the exception, not the norm. Of course being barefoot on the beach was great, but sand, carpet, hardwood and maybe tile were the only experiences my feet had. I didn’t realize how succumbed to numb I had become. It’s easy for this to be the case in our everyday lives as well. Maybe it’s because we’re easily overwhelmed by feeling things.

A few weeks ago, I tried to run on gravel (again). There’s a dirt track at a middle school not far from where I work that has a fair amount of gravel strewn across it. Skirting to the innermost portion of the track where the gravel was in shortest supply, I ran as fast as I could. After completing a 400 that felt more like hopping than running, my feet were tired and I called it a day. A few months ago, I was heading to a friend’s house in north Seattle and decided to make the trip from the bus stop to her place barefoot. This is becoming increasingly routine, but what I didn’t see coming were Seattle sidewalks. For those of you who don’t know, Seattle’s oldest sidewalks are like gravel encapsulated in stone. The rough surfaces with some jagged edges caught me a bit off-guard, and I found myself struggling just to keep a decent walking pace. Then it occurred to me: The nerve sensors on the bottom of my feet are just receptors of information. It is my thoughts that render value judgments to this experience. It’s just information. I can handle ALL the information. I can handle all the information… So I repeated the little mantra to myself for the next mile and a half. When we’re used to being numb, feeling anything can feel like a lot. When are conditioned to expect a disconnect between ourselves and the earth OR ourselves and others, dissolving those barriers can be extremely uncomfortable at first. Don’t give up, you can handle ALL the information!