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In one of my favourite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a Borg drone is separated from the Collective and is brought aboard the Enterprise to be healed. He slowly gains “self” awareness, takes on the name Hugh, and describes his experiences as a Borg drone. At one point, Hugh says that it’s somewhat lonely being separated from the Collective, because it cuts him off from the “voices” of the other drones. Since all Borg are part of a single system, they are all interconnected, and Borg drones who get cut off from this experience great loneliness at the loss of the familiar voices. This pattern is later repeated with another recovering drone, Seven of Nine, on Voyager.

To be Borg is a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone, the loss of all distinctiveness and unique identity is utterly frightening, but I could greatly sympathize with Hugh’s description of “the voices”. For me, the way I process information means my mind is always abuzz with information, and I have constant sensory input. I admit sometimes it builds up to be too much and I have to work the extra energy off by stimming, but most of the time, I’m very happy with what sensory input the world brings me, and I’m always in awe of what new sights, smells, and sounds I can experience.

Someone told me yesterday it would be possible to “quiet” my mind and learn sensory avoidance through meditation. The idea sounded attractive, primarily because I was curious as to what it would be like to see what a more “quiet” mindset is like, as I’ve always wondered about what it’s like in other people’s brains. It wouldn’t be a perfect recreation, but I imagine other people’s minds are more quiet than mine.

Then I thought about what it would be like to experience that type of temporary sensory cut-off; it wouldn’t be a deprivation necessarily, it would be like looking at the world through a glass plate: A less clear, well-defined picture. I would miss the “voices” of my senses giving constant input and keeping me company, keeping me aware, and allowing me to experience constant new sensation.

Fortunately, meditation’s effects wouldn’t be permanent if I did it, so I am not scared to try it because of that, but it did make me wonder for a few moments about what a “quiet” life would be like.

 

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