Is the iPad keyboard the curse of Steve Jobs? Or, is it an opportunity to stretch our perceptive skills?

I've been thinking a lot lately about something Hubert Godard once said in a class he taught in Berkeley in 2002. I had just finished my first year after Rolfing training and found myself in a somewhat unsafe environment. I say unsafe because I felt very unsure of myself amongst all these other Rolfers that had been doing the work for decades longer than myself. Many of the older Rolfers told me they didn't want to work with me because my touch would lack the skill required to be in their systems. It's not the thing you want to hear having just been freshly minted from the training. One thing I have learned is that when I am in a state of emergency, as in having my confidence rocked by that unfair sentiment and being insecure in the first place, I do not have the capacity to learn. So much of that week remains in a blur of adrenaline.

But Godard did say something during that week that stuck with me. He said that aging wasn't just a physical process, but it was a decline in our perceptions. Meaning, as we age we become more fixed (or develop a strong preference) in one mode of perceiving, usually the eyes. The other "portals of perception" (his phrase) shrank due to non use. In other words, the ways in which we perceive the world can atrophy!

I have had the opportunity to watch the aging process through my parents, my clients and even myself. And true to what Godard observed, we do start to develop preferences for the way we know, interact and learn in the environment. Most people seem to prefer the portal of seeing over the portals of say smell, hearing or skin feeling. So when I watch an elder walk into an environment I see them sort themselves out by using mostly their eyes. They look first before stepping, look first before answering a question, look first to figure out who just walked in the room.

Perception is a complex many layered event, so I hesitate making such a decisive correlation by saying only sight is used. But it makes me curious as I type this how many other ways of perceiving am I not attending to. And while it may be impossible to be attentive to everything when I have one task to accomplish, that is typing, I observe that when I hear the sizzle of bacon cooking behind me in the pan (because I'm fortunate today to have my amazing husband prepare a beef daube with carrots for our supper) and smell the shallots, my body feels more like it's hanging. I'm not having to hold myself up. I also notice that when I use my eyes more peripherally (meaning I see the screen in front of me, but I can also see the items on the table behind it and beside me) I can actually type on the keyboard of this iPad mini a thousand times better!!

I'm not sure if that is what Steve Jobs intended. But it's working for me. To all those iPad typists out there try it and tell me what you think. Can you type on your iPad keyboard by seeing the screen in front of you and at the same time seeing what's behind and beside your device?

A New Definition of Fitness