On afferent nerves

Anatomy in Honfleur

Everything we know about this world outside of us, whatever that world is, we sense through impulses sent through our nerves.

While our interpretations are complex, the mechanisms are not. Nerve impulses travel as action potentials to the brain, each action potential identical to the next.

The piercing of a nail in one’s foot, the smell of a loved one, the sound of the waves lapping the bayshore all come down to simple signals sent along simple axons, then interpreted in complex ways.

The signals themselves differ only in their frequency, not their magnitude. The sensations differ only because the signals hit different parts of the brain.

The nerves are not conscious, of course, and most of their signals are ignored by the part of the brain that makes you consciously you.

But you can, at only moment, choose to focus your attention on a particular set of nerve signals.

Lichen on a cedar Adirondack chair.

Right now, as you breathe in, the nerves along the trachea are triggered to life, sending signals that the brain interprets as a gentle swirling in your chest.

If you focus on it, you can feel the miracle for what it is.

(And if you don’t, the miracle will happen anyway….)

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