Thursday, July 1, 2010

The sensitive plant. Thursday, July 1, 2010.

"Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears." - Edgar Allan Poe

We have a little garden in our backyard. It’s totally my husband’s domain; I can’t so much as keep a cactus alive. We share peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and a few other vegetables with rabbits and whatever other creatures happen by.

Yesterday my husband was taking me on a tour of our small gardening area, and we spied an unexpected occupant – a sensitive plant. Mimosa pudica is an herb with leaves that fold up and droop when touched. I reached out and tapped a branch, and sure enough, down it went. My mom used to keep sensitive plants in the house.

I’ve always been fascinated by the sensitive plant. It seems sentient, and you almost feel guilty watching it seem to become depressed because you’ve come in contact with it.

It reminded me of Elaine Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When The World Overwhelms You.” Aron believes that 20 percent of the population are, by nature, “HSPs” who have “sensitive nervous systems,” are “aware of subtleties in their surroundings,” and are “more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” Among other things, HSPs can sense bad moods in others, and often absorb those feelings.

I think I may be an HSP, although to other people, not the environment at large. In fact the chaos of a city, the screams of a subway, the bustle of crowds forms a white noise that tranquilizes me.

But put me into a room with someone who is hostile, no matter how nice they act, and I can sense their true feelings, more so than can my colleagues. And if my boss or husband or mom is feeling angry, I am quick to internalize it - feeling responsible and very distressed, even if the situation has nothing to do with me.

I hope that little sensitive plant survives, and comes back next year. I feel a kinship to it.

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