There are truths one doesn’t find out about oneself until later in life that would have helped make sense of things earlier, had one known. A number of years ago I discovered that I am in the 1-in-6 minority of folks who have Sensory Processing Sensitivity. This means my brain processes information differently and reflects on it more deeply than most people’s brains do. The down side is that I can become easily overwhelmed and overstimulated. The up side, however, is that I derive immense satisfaction and joy from the smallest bits of beauty or experience.
”]It doesn’t take much to trip whatever trigger is in my brain. Quality food, sincere hugs, moving music readily please me. Small things fill me up, quench my thirst. I may detect subtleties that others miss. Variations in shadow from one canyon to the next to the next, the mystery of solar/lunar eclipses, the way a raven’s pinions are evenly separated at its wingtips, or the tiniest sound of a seep trickling in the desert — these are things of exquisite beauty to me. Last month two unrelated people independently told me, within a 72-hour span, that they didn’t know anyone else who could get “orgasmic about nature” the way I did. They even chose the same exact phrase. (Reason for today’s header photo: one of those observations was made as I was ooohing and ahhing about this canyon scene at sun-up.)
Elaine Aron, the researcher who has most studied High Sensitivity, states that “if you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.” If you know me, you know how dismayed I am at my own distractibility in conditions like that. Is it any wonder that I am increasingly drawn to the wilderness, to remote places where I can seek out tranquility? Get me away from crowds, honking horns, grocery stores with too many choices, or even heavily-traveled hiking trails. Give me solitude. Give me time and place for my thoughts to coalesce, for my spirit to make connections.
[See here for more details if you, or someone you know, may desire more info about high sensitivity. A short self-test is available.]