It’s amazing the amount of people that get to the countryside and say “It’s so peaceful here.” What’s unusual isn’t that they notice it, but that it’s somehow “out of the ordinary” and not something they usually experience. Contrast this against entering urban areas, especially city centres. We have to filter out all the sensations we’re bombarded with, and, if we become used to this, we develop a habitual numbness, an adaption to stop us from being overwhelmed. We are sensitive creatures, after all. Perhaps there is no such thing as an “insensitive” person, just a desensitised one?
Desensitised like this, we seek out extreme experiences that will fulfill us, or at least give us a brief moment of fulfillment. Perhaps in drugs and other substances. Perhaps in extreme sports or at adventure parks. If we can’t live these ourselves, perhaps we find it in films filled with high emotions, action and violence, or sex. Something, anything that will evoke something in us. (Or perhaps we seek out things that will numb us more; it can all be too much, even our own emotions and sensations!)
I think it’s necessary to find sanctuary where we can lower our defenses against an intrusive world, where we can appreciate and delight in the little things in life, pleasures that are easily overlooked. I’m used to the rhythms and seasons of my mountain valley home, and my senses pick up on anything that looks “different” or “out of place”, subtle changes in the environment. Back in the city my well-developed defenses come back into play, and I enter The Tunnel, just to get from A to B. It’s a useful adaption, and saves me from more stress than necessary (though I’m not saved from the numbness). But I like living life with sensitivity, using and developing all the senses that nature endowed me with. In natural spaces, I reconnect not just with nature and its wonders but also with my own body, a connection I don’t want to lose.