Does the sight of blood make you faint? Do your farts truly offend? The things that shock us are things foreign to our comportment. You are never desensitized to anything, you only adapt.
All of my senses are still very much active and I am fully aware of the sensation, but it’s no longer shocking…
I spent 3 months in India and experienced an assault of sensory extremes: the colours, the smells, the tastes, the heat, the noise. Every sense of my body was in overload: eyes, ears, mouth, nose and my skin.
With my eyes I would see men urinating on the walls lining the street, women dressed in brightly coloured sarees, children running through heavy traffic. I even saw people doing their business on the train tracks.
With my nose I would smell the burning of pooja, incense and fragrant offerings. In other corners of the streets I might smell animal refuse, trash and even human excrement.
With my tongue I tasted the fiery flavours typical of Indian cuisine. I tasted the sweet spices of masala chai, the sweetness of lassi and the creaminess of camel milk desserts.
With my ears I heard the cacophony of India, a harmony of natural and industrial sounds. A chorus of people chattering, an accented melody of car horns and auto-rickshaw drivers, all this amongst construction, aviation and general background noise. Even in the early hours of the morning car horns were sounded.
With my skin I felt the Indian sun. I felt the dry winds brush past my face. I felt the rain droplets fall through my hair.
In the beginning, all of this was foreign and for me was shocking! But I was never desensitised to any of it. I simply grew accustomed to the honking of drivers, the sights of beggars lying in the street, the smells of shit hanging in the stale air, the heat of the sun, the local flavours. All of my senses are still very much active and I am fully aware of the sensation, but it’s no longer shocking…
Think of other ways you’ve grown accustomed to something.