I had spent my morning exploring the topic of synesthesia and the way we prune back our sensory experiences from the moment we are born; something synesthetes don’t do quite so much, resulting in a far bushier “tree” of sensory perception than the average person. As a synesthete myself, yet someone who also experiences hyper-sensitivity and chronic pain (the three have been shown to be overlapping), I know just how easy it can be to give up those broader sensory experiences that once brought so much playfulness and joy out of the desire to stop feeling “too much”. It had occurred to me that chronic pain is like the down side of the see-saw on which synaesthesia is the colourful gift at the highest end (I really wouldn’t be without it and the sensory adventures it takes me on) and sensitivity is the mixing pot of both, made up of both pluses and minuses, depending on how challenging these heightened sensitivities make the experience of life (for more on this, see my related post).
Having deep-dived all the science around this fascinating overlap, I was left wondering how much my own synesthesia had been sacrificed in recent years to the desire to cut off further pain. What if embracing synesthesia with all my might is a way to tip that experiential see-saw towards the joy of feeling “more” instead of the chronic pain of it…but, then, what if I am too late, at the age of fifty, to make this switch. Can neurology be regrown, as easily as all that, with just an intention set?
Then my walk, which took me past my healing tree, answered my question for me. This gnarled “old” tree, my favourite, is so woody and leafless, so characterful yet staid in its grey and lichen-coated maturity and yet…already…crazy new sprouts, shoots and buds are eagerly finding their tender and colourful way out of it, even before winter is properly started.
This was all I needed to know in answer to my query. New growth out of old wood is infinitely possible; we see it all the time, out in Nature, happening before our very eyes. Winter’s tree is reliably replaced by springtime’s new growth, to a pattern that always serves the purposes of the tree, however it may look from the outside. Whilst anyone may choose to withdraw inwards to suit the season, becoming as woody, barren, plain and withdrawn as they must be to meet the harsher climes of life, we still get to choose when to “sprout” our way out, in new and colourfully creative ways…over and over again, exactly as we say so.
Without a single word having been exchanged, I felt as grateful as ever for the timeless tree-wisdom that came to my aid. Already, I had been feeling my own vitality poised for such a growth spurt yet a trip-wire in my mind had been over-riding it, that thing (now dissolved) being the self-limiting belief that it simply wasn’t possible to achieve at this mature stage of my game. Yet regeneration is built into the very cycles of Nature, it already has our back, relying only on the belief that it is possible, desired and certainly not feared…and that, at last, we are ready for it.