Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Going Temporarily Blind Behind the English House

Rochelle W.'s picture

Upon arrival in the backyard of the English house I assessed my seating options. The first option that caught my eye was a lightly colored jagged rock, which did not seem like the best option. Next I saw a stool, a lone bench, and a picnic table with one bench on either side. I sat one the lone bench without considering the grass or the stones embedded in the grass.

I didn’t really have a plan for my time here. So for a large portion of the time I sat and thought about what I should do. I felt like I needed an activity or an experiment to do so that I would be able to write my reflection thoughtfully.

So I came up with a plan: I would sit with my eyes closed. Vision seems to be the most prized of the five senses. It is the way I primarily and consciously analyze the the world around me on a daily basis. It’s the sense I used when I entered the space to analyze my sitting options. It’s my default sense. So to cut off vision would be to cut off the safety-net sense, and it would force me to analyze the world though a different lense.

When I closed my eyes I fell into the struggle between actively experiencing while trying to document that active experience. In order to try and combat that I divided my time up between my senses. I started with the second most popular sense - hearing. The most prominent thing I noticed when listening was the difference between the continuous sounds and the sounds that only last for a short amount of time. There was one continuous sound which was the sound of crickets chirping. There were many momentary sounds including cars driving by (although I know that the flow of cars will be continuous so this could be continuous in a way), the leaves of the trees being rustled by the wind, squirrels hopping through the bushes, and birds overhead. I thought about how continuity is relative to time span, and about how all these sounds would be continuous if the time span measuring them was short enough, and about how at one point all the sounds will stop.

Next on my list of sense to experince was smell. I inhaled deeply and I could smell the dirt. I thought I could smell the rocks as well. I could smell a scent that I have named “green”, or the smell of leaves and plants. I turned my head to see if the smells changed in different directions, but they didn’t.

Second to last in line was touch. My exposed skin touched the air around it and felt the temperature of that air. The air was cool. I felt the tiny mountain goose bumps erupting from my skin, and noticed that they came mostly when I thought about the temperature. I felt the grass on the side of my feet. I felt the bench under my butt. I felt the clothes covering my body. I felt my muscles waking up when I stretched them. I felt my eyes water when I yawned. I noticed the more time I spent feeling the more internally focused I got.

Last I tasted. When I stuck my tongue out I couldn’t taste anything. I wondered if nothingness was a taste. When I held my tongue within my mouth, I could taste the inside of it.

When I opened my eyes everything was bright.