Babies are all feeling all the time.
Every everything is new, delightfully, terrifyingly, experientially unprecedented: terror is unavoidable, but so is ecstasy.
Between baby and death bed we arc between terror/ecstasy thru the ever increasing confusion/relativism/mitigation of our brains imposing context to stimuli. But not for all of us. My son took care of a 16 year old who had had a tragic brain development that ended his arc of understanding to that of an infant.
Fully grown – large, hairy, and sometimes horny – he lives a mostly happy life of pure experience without reason or understanding beyond the simple mechanics need to live.
My life is the opposite of his: except I, like him, am mostly happy too: but my life is almost completely lived in reason and understanding: relationships, building codes, money, organizations – all in a swirl of effort – relatively complicated realities in a evolving mesh of deep background, necessary decisions and the necessity to be both dogged and nimble. About 19 hours a day of push (with some Law & Order reruns thrown in).
And almost no time for experiencing simple, unprocessed, unconsidered stimuli.
The worlds, his and mine, are deeply imbalanced. He has no sense of it and just lives with his parents as the registration to virtually everything beyond his senses. I, on the other hand, am only occasionally hit in the head with beauty, terror and wonder.
But I know that, inevitably, facility will erode, degrade, minimalize – I will retreat back to the place of feelings: the sensations I have that are left to me once this overwhelming integration with the Machine of Everything ends.
I am sure there will be a moment when it’s clear things are changing: I hope I can feel the Grace in it more than the terror.
My guess is the 16 year old will sense the break from flowing feeling when his parents no longer can be his connection to anything beyond sensation: I doubt he will have any sense of it other than a sense of absence. A terrifying absence. That may be an enduring connection between me and him.
So I impose less Machine of Everything for 90 minutes a day for 40 days and try to feel more, where I can, by denying a few of the Machine’s distractions.
It’s Lent for me: the official prescription is to foster preparation for the coming Eastertide. For me, Lent is also trying to fully feel that there is a Good Friday for me, and you, and everyone – and that beyond being inevitable, that it’s OK.