November 01, 2021

Through the Lens - Issue 23

Through the lens for amirisu by Masako Nakagawa

Through the lens for amirisu by Masako Nakagawa

There is nothing that can match the sensation of experiencing something in person when so many things have become possible online. We can connect with other people and encounter new things yet anything that goes beyond language, whether it be a texture, a smell, or a certain atmosphere, is difficult to communicate. Things that you could have otherwise understood with a single touch become much more complex.

When I’m curious about something, the first thing I do is reach for my smart phone or turn on my computer to find clues through these screens that will lead to an answer, but it can make me feel like I am slowly being sucked into a whirlpool. That’s when I realize that I need to reconnect with my senses. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. I just need to dedicate some time to practice sensing the world with my own eyes, ears, nose, and skin.

While I continue to hike mountains and run along riverbanks, I’ve recently rediscovered the power of a simple walk. I thought that taking walks was something I would put aside for my golden years. Compared to hiking along a trail, I was certain that walking around my neighborhood would be boring.

One day, I decided to give walking a try anyway. I left my headphones where they were and stepped out of the door to start walking. It was sprinkling. The scent of rain rose up from the asphalt. While it was still the height of summer, I heard insects announcing the approach of autumn. Grasses I couldn’t name grew thick on the side of the road. Exhausted flowers scattered vibrant petals along the street. Raindrops trickled down my bare arms, and I caught glimpses of blue through breaks in the clouds. Before I realized it, I had walked quite a distance from home.

There was nothing boring about it. I was surprised that simply walking could be such a rich experience. I could feel senses that had been shut down opening up again. The narrow focus of my vision, fixed in place from constantly looking at screens an arm’s length away, loosened and regained its freedom of movement. I could feel my mind clearing, allowing my thoughts to wander freely.

That’s when it occurred to me that I don’t always need to find an answer right away. If I keep my mind moving at a healthy pace and avoid getting stuck, eventually I will get to where I need to be. Moving my body freed my mind and I turned back towards home with a happy heart. I walked for two and a half hours that day. At the time I thought I overdid it, but now I think that’s exactly how much time I needed. 

Tomorrow I’ll head out on another walk and try to hold on to the sensory experiences I've reclaimed.

                  – Masako Nakagawa