What do we feel like?
This is a line from my most recent collection of poetry that was born from these one-word prompts more than 3 years ago.
When it hit the page, I immediately wanted to refute it. We touch, always.
We can literally feel the touch of another. But then I started to think about perception. When we touch some thing or someone, what do we feel and how do we know what the other feels?
We can only guess at what we feel like, we can only guess at what the other is feeling. There is a transfer of energy: to touch is to acknowledge (is that right? I'll have to come back to that)
This Atlas of Sensation: this is the title of the collection mentioned above. It traces everyday sensations and movements, tries to map them out, tries to make sense of the feelings we feel and how we use them to navigate our own existence, and use them to find each other.
When we consider the quote from Vuong, this process of finding ourselves and each other gets complicated quickly. You are human, then sound. You are dad, then partner. You are lonely, then tired, then cold. We are mapping out our perception of these sensations as we move through the world, working hard to keep up. We are focused on trying to translate these sensations into language, and communicate with each other.
We are lucky to find each other as often as we do.
And while it may be true: we may only ever almost touch. The sensations we feel when we touch ground us in the same space, if we are careful and attentive, to connect, as we are human, sound, or infinite other, in the moment.
The more we touch, the more we ground ourselves in these moments, the more we are reminded of the sensations that occur as we touch, and we are allowed to remain forever hungry for them.