Monday, April 28, 2003

why does rain make humans uncomfortable?
first answers: it is cold, it can make us sick, it ruins our clothing and our carefully crafted jerry curl.
second answer: out of a famous neuroscience experiment rises Difference. A pad constructed of metal bars next to each other. Each bar can be heated or cooled to its own temperature. A hand rests upon the bars. When all bars are warm, no discomfort. When all bars are cool, no discomfort. Then, warm and cold bars interspered, mixed across the board, warm at the same temperature, cold at the same temperature. The result? EXTREME discomfort.
I think our bodies are not ready to deal with certain kinds of difference. We can immerse ourselves in a hot bath or a cool lake and adjust comfortably. But, if somehow every other inch were cold, and every other inch hot, we would writhe and writhe. The same temperatures.
Rain is like that, I suspect. Your toasty skin confronts an unpredictable and uneven barrage of cold points. The problem may not be the cold, or the wet, but the difference between wet and dry, between cold and warm, scattered across your body faster than you can keep up with it.