Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 3, 2010

Post #244

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 3:41 pm
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A not-so-everyday view in Canyonlands NP

How can I live and work in a park every day with views such as this one, and not be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it all? The spectacle is almost too much, at times. My soul quivers with excitement when light dapples the buttes and mesas in new ways, or a wildflower I’ve not seen yet bursts into bloom, or the scent of cliffrose or evening primrose beckons me to bury my face in the blossoms and inhale. I know some of you shake your head and think I am exaggerating, but this is as accurate as I can explain it. Every sensory thing is exciting to me. Walking to work this morning, I encountered a gorgeous 10-inch long lizard that proceeded to stand up on her hind legs and dash away. I was standing with my mouth agape, trying to comprehend what I had just seen, when my boss walked by and I had to find words to convey my astoundedness. It’s a good thing Karen understands and experiences that passion herself. She knows.

The calendar page has turned once more; after only one more page turn I have no park service work lined up for summer’s end. Last season’s departure was tough, very tough; it’s time for me to apply for more jobs.

June 27, 2010

Highly Sensitive Person

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:37 am
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Utah Hwy 313 near Moab, about 6:30 a.m.

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.]

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