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WQW #42: The Mysterious Sense of Touch

November 2: Senses: Touch or Feeling

Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays (a Photo or Writing Challenge)

“While scientists unraveled the neural basis of sight and smell decades ago, temperature and pressure remained a mystery. …(Touch neurons) convert …mechanical or thermal energies into electrical signals, and how they do this was still not known.  “

Brain Facts.Org

Featured Bloggers for WQW #41: Your October Glass

For those of you who contributed to WQW #40, we thank you for your ideas.


Currently, this weekly writing challenge runs from Wednesday through Tuesday at noon. All you need is at least one quote to go with your post. Share photos, and/or write a poem, story, or memoir. Just have fun with it and let the quote or quotes lead the way.

Topics for the year (subject to change) are listed on the WQW Page. Feel free to post weekly, or drop in from time to time – All are welcome. 

For More on Touch


The Mysterious Sense of Touch

This year as part of WQW, I set out to explore the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, and smell. Quotes about touch and feeling bounced all over the place touching heaven to touching brandy from touching lives to the finishing touch- a perfect pair of earrings.

Writers and photographers often seek more than just the literal understanding of the concept, which is why I think there was such a plethora of metaphysical quotes outside the realm of the human sense perception.

Few quotes focused on the actual sense of feeling. Leo Buscaglia’s quote came the closest to examining the literal sense of touch. The sense of touch is so intimately connected to our emotions that it has the power to shape our lives. Even if you remove the sense of sight and hearing from this quote, the power of touch remains. But why and how does it work? Why is it so powerful?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia
The soft fur against Jodie’s face and hand, and the pressure of the dog’s feet on her legs communicated love without a single word.

I checked out quotes for “feeling” and found the same broad application of the word. So I moved over to “sensation” which brought me a little closer to delving into the mysterious sense of touch.

“The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain.”

Lord Byron

As I narrowed down the field of what it is that we actually feel, I found more quotes on the sense of touch itself. Touch allows us to feel pain, temperature, and pressure. By searching those words I found more about the literal sense of touch. Even so, I don’t understand why it is such a powerful, powerful motivator.

We all remember the pain we’ve endured and never want to repeat it. We remember the ecstasy of the touch of the one we love. The worst hurt ever is the violence of sexual abuse. Torture removes most inhibitions about sharing even top secrets.

We can’t just shut the eyes of our pain neurons, or cover the ears of them either. We can’t plug our noses to the feel. How do we calm down the sense of touch? The truth is that the sense of touch is a mystery.

Temperatures We Can Feel

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

~ Harry S. Truman
Volunteer in the kitchen at Ft. Vancouver

“The thing with heat is, no matter how cold you are, no matter how much you need warmth, it always, eventually, becomes too much.”

― Victoria Aveyard, Glass Sword

How much heat can the human body take? One article said that a human body can last ten minutes in a sauna at 230 degrees F if the person doesn’t pass out from carbon monoxide first. Children will only last a few minutes in a car whose internal temperature reaches 122. At 104 degrees our body’s core temperature begins to fry us.

Why isn’t her hand burning up?

“Wood combustion is a three-stage process. First, moisture is evaporated and driven off. Second, volatile matter begins to vaporize into gases at temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Third, gases and charcoal are burned at temperatures above 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Facts on Wood Burning Fireplaces

What About Cold?

Is the same true of cold? If we are hot, we try all sorts of remedies to cool off. What is your favorite remedy? According to one article I read, on the internet, where all truth can be found, is that we can last only 30 minutes in a body of water that is just above freezing or 32 degrees F. Our core temperature must remain above 85 degrees or we pass out. Once our core temperature drops to 68, we will probably die in spite of what you might see in the movies.

Two kids beating the heat in Vancouver, WA at the Farmer’s Market

Pain and Pressure

“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”

Johann Sebastian Bach

hahaha If only that were true. The only truth is that most instruments operated because we can feel them and touch the keys with the right amount of pressure. We have probably all heard people – like me- play the piano too hard or too softly and the “feeling/emotion” of the music is not released.

No, No – Not More Pressure – Please Stop!

We feel the pressure when something punctures us. Imagine running through these mysterious woods with a huge monster running after you! Imagine what you would feel as you scraped past those sharp tree limbs.

The mysterious forest at Cape Meares near Oceanside, Oregon.

How do these pictures make you feel? Do you have goosebumps from the misty fog? Are you breaking into a nervous sweat in the mysterious woods?


The Benefits of Touching

I finished this post yesterday. Last night I visited my neighbor, a therapist and we discussed touch. Then in our women’s Bible study, this week the subject moved to the power of touching. Because of those discussions, I wanted to add this section, and I bet you can add many more bullet points to it or even create an entire post about the benefits of touching.

  • “When teachers pat students in a friendly way, those students are three times as likely to speak up in class.” – Hands-on Research: The Science of Touching
  • “Touching patients with Alzheimer’s disease can have huge effects on getting them to relax, make emotional connections with others, and reduce their symptoms of depression.” – Hands-on Research: The Science of Touching
  • A solid pressure of a hand in the middle of the back promotes a feeling of support. – Kathy Daniels, counselor – my neighbor
  • Touching the elbow is safe. Carol from Bible study
  • “There are studies showing that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress.” – Hands-on Research: The Science of Touching
  • “We found that massage actually increases natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are the front lines of the immune system.” – Why Physical Touch Matters 
  • “When you apply more pressure, moderate pressure, as in a hug or giving a person a back rub, the effects are more positive than providing less pressure. Light stroking is a bit aversive to most people because they feel like they’re being tickled. … Heart rate decreases when you’re getting moderate pressure. Heart rate increases when you’re getting light pressure. Same with blood pressure.” Why Physical Touch Matters 

In spite of most of the quotes that I found to be metaphysical, there is a lot of research being done on the benefits of touching. I didn’t even scratch the surface with the two articles I read. Several of you are counselors and much more knowledgeable about this subject. Feel free to link posts or categories of posts you have done on this topic to this week’s WQW post.

Touching The Hands of Time

“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”

Leonardo da Vinci

We are venturing back into the realms of the metaphysical again, yet we feel the pressure and temperature of the water as it slides across our fingertips.

The truth is that we touch time all the time. I remember learning that there is no new water or air on the earth, so somehow it keeps recycling through the generations. So every time you put your hands in a river, you are touching time. How cool is that?

The Little Spokane River near Nine Mile Falls, WA

This week’s WQW Is Inspired By

  • Sunday Stills – Mysterious – How is it Beautiful?
  • Cell Pic Sunday – The NYPD helicopter hovers over John. Hmmmm?All my photos are from my iphone 12S mini and processed in Adobe Bridge thanks to tips from Cee Neuner. If you haven’t checked her Tips from Cee page recently, you’ll find lots of help here.

Now it’s your turn.

The mysterious month of October is over. Even the Day of the Dead has disappeared into the history books for 2022. What are your thoughts about the sense of Touch?

Have a great week, my friends.

Ongoing on Always Write

  • PPAC Photographing Public Art Next to the last one hosted here on Always Write – It’s moving the Natalie the Explorer’s blog combined with Weekend Coffee Share. – no theme – one more day to post for this week.
  • Upcoming topics for WQW
    • November 9: Holiday: Veteran’s Day
    • November 16: Travel: Memorable Trips
    • November 23: Holiday: Thanksgiving, Gratitude
    • November 30: Abandoned or Artistic Buildings/or Writer’s Choice/ or YOUR WOTY Review

For a list of past WQW posts visit my WQW Page

Happy quoting!

54 replies »

  1. “Touch” and “mysterious” together gave me much to think about. And I didn’t know about many of the things you mentioned or consider them before, so this is all interesting to learn. My favorite has to be the part about touching time through air and water. I love the photos that accompany your messages too. I love the ancient mystery that the forest near Cape Meares radiates.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marsha, this is one of my favorite posts of yours to date. The information was interesting. And I love the Bach quote. Made me laugh… I am with you. I love that you include a photo of Jodie. She radiates love in everything she does, so the photo was such a great choice.

    The power of touch is real. One year during a CPR training I had an EMT medic as the instructor. He told us so many real life stories. (sad, scary, and funny) His presentation was often hard to listen to and yet he had such a tenderness about him that I couldn’t imagine him taking hold of these crises situations he walked into. Anyway…he said one of the first things he learned from “someone wiser than him” was about touch. For them touch was pain….BUT…He was taught to place his hand on the person in crisis, either on the chest, or back and use the words. I am going to help. He said 100% of the time the person would relax. He said he learned to do it with school children in situations of debate.

    I bought into it, and it served me well in all my years of teaching. And what made me think of it was a few weeks ago my boisterous grandson was sitting next to me while I was trying to open one of those boxes sealed with a bottle of glue. I thought he was going to lose patience.

    He gently put his hand on my back, and said: you got this gramma….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Several of the comments have brought up some good points. I really had no idea what I was going to write when the topic came up on my calendar. But the quotes fleshed it out.


  3. This is extraordinary. You’ve given us much to think about. Very academic without being at all tedious. I feel very informed. That predators look you in the eye before attacking was interesting. I’ve always been told to never look a strange animal in the eye. I knew it threatened them, but I didn’t know why.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reach out and Touch (somebody’s hand); Touch me in the morning; Sometimes when we touch; Can’t touch this; (You’ve got the) Magic Touch. Your post started me thinking about songs that focus on touching. I’m sure this is just a partial list. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So great Marsha! I was going to add some photos but I’m fighting a cold and just don’t have the energy…Kept it short this week. I love the photos you got of the gal cooking at the Fort. That was so cool. I’m keeping this post open so I can go through and read it again more slowly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great post on touch Marsha and the perfect person to choose… LOVE Leo Buscaglia.I love his books and miss him. Those trees def looked like monsters alright. Was looking for my brandy at the end to warm me up. it finally got cold!😇

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I suspect the animals of the forest have a sixth sense. It protects them from being preyed upon. This sixth sense surrounds them like a spiders web.It senses other animals energy field. When a animal feels this energy from a predator they get out of there! The ones that do not pay attention, well they perish.
    Humans had this sense when we were in the forest thousands of years ago but because of our domestication this sense has been diminished. What is not used goes away.
    However, a bit of it still remains to this day. Have you ever been walking down the street and feel someone watching you only to turn and see someone staring straight at you?
    This is a reflex action from our ancestral DNA. Predators stare at their prey just before they attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your images and quotes are so well curated, Marsha! Love that pic of Jodie and her dog! YOu are getting really good at adding color to your quotes! Such a great topic! As I joked earlier, between losing my senses of taste and smell to covid (actually improving) and needing glasses and hearing aids, touch is all I got left, LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So much to think about here, but I will answer your question. You made me think of thigmotropism – how some plants use touch to help them find a support. I love watching (English) peas reaching tendrils out for a pea stick, then winding round it. They circle the air until they find something. Very slowly, obviously, or it would be a bit too Audrey II.

    Liked by 1 person

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Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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