BY KENNETH HARPER FINTON
When I was very young, I did not know the world. The world made itself known to me quite gradually, in small steps that I can now only imagine. I cannot remember these steps. They happened before memory was born. I felt these steps.
Discomfort was a feeling that I learned quickly to correct. My first feelings were those untenable positions which caused me to turn away from irritation into a position of familiarity and contentment.
I kicked and moved to find my snugness, not knowing or caring that my attempt to find relief caused pain to another.
The experience of the world of the womb was lost to me. The world was making itself known, but I knew nothing of the world. I knew nothing about myself for I was not a self. I was as close to being nothing as I have ever been.
Yet in this nothing there was feeling. There was touch. There were senses. I could hear the world making music and the sounds of the body in which I was immersed. Because I did not breath, I could not smell. Because I had no smell, I could not taste. Because I had no eyes I could not see. But there was touch and there was sound and there was feeling. The rest would come later.
The world makes itself known to us slowly.
The distress that I felt at the moment of my birth was sudden and momentous. I left the familiar world of water and warmth, felt the pressure of extreme movement that I had never felt before. The world made me know of constriction and limits. I felt movement and the pressures of my movement, then release to an alien place that made me feel misery. I longed briefly to return to what I had forever known and felt the strange coldness that I had never felt before. Air replaced water. I opened my mouth and tasted of the air. The air forced its way into me and I smelled the horrid stench of it for the first time. I became so agonizingly uncomfortable that I cried.
Since that first forlorn cry that expressed both my surprise and extreme distress, the world has continued to make itself known to me.
That process has not changed much.
The instinct to recoil from aggravation and hurt and return to a known luxury has been retained, but the added senses produced a curiosity to know more about that which caused me displeasure.
In giant strides of courage, I accepted some irritation and began to realize that there was more to everything than I had learned.
Some learning produced not only pleasure but sensations that I welcomed with bright smiles. I knew nothing of time and little of space. I was immersed fully in the now. Then I opened my eyes and the world came roaring in.