Gift of Synesthesia

Synesthesia - picture - final

A few months ago, I learned that a mental process of mine had a long Greek name associated with it.  I set out to discover what this mental process was, who else had it, how it helped or hindered us, and how best to take advantage of what I have come to call the “Gift of Synesthesia”.

Earlier this year while walking into work, a field of rye grass and the leaves on a row of eucalyptus trees were going back and forth in rhythm with the blowing wind.  I stopped and stared because I realized that the rye heads and eucalyptus leaves weren’t just moving – I sensed vibrations coming off of them (stronger than normal), perceived lines and waves in my mind, and heard the whole as a symphony in my mind.  It was profound.

At first, I thought I was imagining things and then realized I had joined their symphony by the simplicity of my standing there.  I was swept along in the movements, riding the waves of motion.  Later that day, I checked again – yep, same sensations.  Then, I started thinking about how I used to see and sense similar things when I was a kid, a teenager, in my 20s, 30s, etc.  I realized it was the same.

In trying to figure this thing out, I researched “sensing vibrations from things you see”.  Came across some articles, which led me to others, which led me to “synesthesia”, which led me to youtube, which led me to an interview with some synesthetes.  One of them closely expressed what I was feeling.  I was so excited that I started crying.  Finally, this thing wasn’t weird!  It had a name!

Synesthesia is basically a blending of the senses.  Some people perceive colored numbers, taste colors, see the entire number line, or see a calendar that rotates in their minds.  For a more complete definition with links and references, check out: wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia.

So, then came the questions, “Why didn’t I understand this thing 40 years ago?!  20 years ago?  10 years ago?”  When those frustrations re-occur, my wife reminds me, “Well, you didn’t, and the past is the past.  But, now you do – so use it to move forward.”

Okay.  Now what?  How do I best use this for the next 50 years?  I’ve been asking around, learning more, and looking into some possibilities.

From what I understand at this point, my synesthesia manifests itself in multiple modalities.  There are lots of different reactions in my head to the various inputs.  Each sense evokes a unique response at times, while some senses constantly blend together multiple things.  Wednesdays are muted-green; Mondays are blue; etc.  Recently, when I was looking through a collection of pictures from a friend, I saw a pink flamingo and “Tuesday!” came to mind.  I know – it might sound weird – but there you have it.

I believe that’s where part of my intense creativity comes from.  I haven’t always known what to do with the artistic words, images, paintings, pictures, poetry, music, and lyrics that have appeared in and flooded my mind over the past four decades.  I’ve expressed some through books, songs, and teaching.  But I’ve filed away many others in my brain, waiting for the right time.  Maybe that time has finally come.

Another example that comes to mind is a car I bought from a friend who was moving out of town.  Carnell smoked a lot and used a particular gel air freshener to cover the smokiness in the red Lincoln.  Every time I got in that car, I told him that it smelled “purple”.  We laughed about it.  But he finally understood what I meant when I discovered that one of his air freshener gel cans had slipped down inside behind the glove box next to the heater core.  So, that thing was just pumping out a deep cherry-purple smell every day!  I finally got rid of the odor in the car, but every time I smell it in the aisle in a store or in an office somewhere, it immediately takes me back to Carnell’s red Lincoln…purple.

Also, if I tilt my head a certain way while looking at the computer screen, some of the letters turn green or purple.  Other words pick up a reddish or yellowish hue around them.  Now, that might just be the lighting of the screen, but either way it’s pretty darn cool.  I tell myself that the letters are all just plain black, and they won’t distract me.

Sounds are especially a hot topic for me – always have been.  So, I’ve carried earplugs with me for the past 20 years.  At parties and sports events, I wear them to take the edge off, yet can still hear conversations just fine.

I tried to talk about this “thing” with others when I was 5 or 6 years old, trying to understand it.   We were out on the playground at school, and the trees and grass across the road were blowing in the wind.  I asked one of the teachers, “Why do the leaves do that?”  “Do what?” she asked.  “That,” pointing at them moving.  She looked at me a little confused and replied, “Well, the wind’s blowing.”  I looked back at her and said, “No, I got that part.  I know that.  But what makes the vibrations come off of them?”  She grinned slightly and said, “You have a very creative imagination.”

After a couple of years of mentioning it or asking people about it when was young, they implied that I was making things up, that I was nuts, or was just being weird.  So, I kept it to myself.  But, it’s still been there every day – just didn’t know what it was.  Now I do.

Since realizing what “this” is, I’ve decided to let it run.  It’s been a very fun couple of months!  I feel like I’m finally me, again.

If you think you may have synesthesia or know someone else who does, I would love to hear about your/their experiences.  You can also find out more by answering some questions at www.synesthete.org .  The site is run by a research lab at Baylor University in Houston, TX.

#  #  #
Thanks for stopping by, today.  I hope you liked the post!
For more stuff, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep

Today’s Perspective (poetry)

Perspective sits back
A little farther than normal, today.
Today at the table
It’s about two and a half feet away,
But it looks like it’s miles.
Actually, I know it’s only a little bit –
Instead of far –
But the whole perspective thing,
It adds flavor to the moment.

Sometimes the moment just disappears
Into the oblivion of the past,
But this moment –
It holds my attention longer and stronger,
Because it presents itself as different.

If I wanted to, I could allow it
To change into a perspective
Of Alice In Wonderland:
Shrinking tiny
Or growing giant beyond control.
But instead, I allow it to come and go,
Maintaining a fortuitous hold on its power.
It won’t run wild unless I let it,
And in this case…no, it’s not the time.

Perhaps in the future at some point
It will be to let it go full bore
And take over for a while…
To enjoy the ride it will bring.
But not yet.
Controlled perspective for now.
I know it’s there,
And I can see it across the table
Winking at me.
Yet, it keeps its distance.
We have a healthy respect for one another.
It works well this way.

# # #
Thanks for stopping by, today.  I hope you liked this post!
For more stuff, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep

Moving Numbers (poetry)

Chased by cascading numbers
Destined to pursue the rotating prefixes
Pasted upon revolving orbs
In ecliptic planes.
To catch a falling knife
By its handle,
Not blade?
No, but to simply pick it up
Once it has stopped
And made its mark.
Those are the patterns I see,
The fixed points I sense,
And the moving lines I feel.
Patterns rise and fall
And sing a song
Through the heavens.
Even though our ears do not hear them –
Since their perception limits
Do not permit certain inaudibles
To be captured –
Though this is as much,
It does not negate the existence
Of such.
Years ago, many others were scorned
For claiming the moon ruled the waters;
Yet now, even surfers thank La Luna
For the tides.
What else will be recognized
In coming years?
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy
Watching the numbers flow.

# # #
Thanks for stopping by, today.  I hope you liked this post!
For more stuff, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep

Feeling the Movements He Saw – synesthesia

Aviazje could feel motion, not just see it, but feel it.  Whenever the trees moved around him, he would stand and sway with them, feeling the wind blow through, taking him along for the ride.  These were special moments when he could stand alone in the woods and let the trees and wind do their thing.

To Aviazje, the fields around his house weren’t just fields, they were a symphony.  When the wind blew the rye grass or the wheat, he watched as the orchestra of blades and stalks play their opus, rounding out the set with crescendos and then softer, softer.

He thought the whole world saw what he saw, felt what he felt, and sensed what he sensed.  But apparently, they didn’t.  His friends at school laughed and made fun of him when he swayed to the music in class, or bounced in tune to the happy beats he heard in his head – sometimes they came from the records or tapes that the teacher played, and sometimes they came from all of the recordings he had stored in his mind.

He couldn’t control his automatic reactions to the music or to the sights.  But, after his classmates laughed at him over and over, he learned ways to ignore the impulses to move with the music and to block out the motions he saw and felt.

When he was in public, he would walk around with his hands in his pockets and his head down, trying not to sense anything around him.  But it didn’t work for long.  Looking down, he started seeing patterns in the sidewalk cracks, and motion flowed through his body from that.

Not understanding what was going on, he eventually wished he would go blind, deaf, or numb.  Maybe being dead would solve his problem, he thought to himself on occasion.  But then, he would look out across the fields, run into the woods, and let himself be swept up in the glory that surrounded him from every side.

When storms came and thunder rolled, he could feel the heartbeat of heaven.  When it rained, he could feel the tears of blessing fall upon the ground.  Then, as he walked across his yard, he would sense the earth’s heart beating along with his – a different rhythm, distinctly its own – but a heartbeat, coming from below his feet.  And what a pounding it gave off.  What a thunderous roar it would lurch forward with and remind him it was good to be alive – to feel the motions he saw.

After that day, whether he was inside his house or at school in class, he would simply touch the walls, the floor, or his desk and feel the vibrations tell him of the song that had been sung throughout time.

Then, he would lay in the yard looking up toward the sky with palms stretched downward, and touch the ground.  He let the orchestra of grass, dirt, and air play their melodies and pulsate their rhythms through his little body.  In moments like that he was in tune with his core.  No one could ever take that away.

#  #  #
I can be reached at martyjreep(at)yahoo.com.  If you enjoyed this article, check out some of my other stuff at http://www.Amazon.com/author/reep

Aviazje, his story (poetry)

Aviazje was born
He walked and lived and died.
But while he was alive,
He felt the world around him
He saw things, yes he did
He learned things, yes he did
He smelled things, yes he did
But most importantly
And most of all
Aviazje felt things
He felt people
Their hurts
Their pains
Their joys
Their smiles
Their love of life
And hatred of others
Aviazje avoided the news
Because it pained him so
To read it
To hear it
To see it
When people died in earthquakes
He died with them
When children starved in famine
He hungered with them
When war blew body parts off of men and women
His limbs ached to the core with them
He saw the movements in the sky
Felt the sun rays coming down
And saw them enter the skin of people around him
Aviazje felt all those things
Until they broke him
So, he tried to shut out the world.
It worked for a while
Then he finally realized he needed to allow part of it in
In order to maintain a balance
Of the good and the bad
That he sensed and felt and internalized
From outside.

# # #
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you liked it!
For more poetry, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep

Magic of the Rocks

Thousands of glittering bits of light shone up at me, greeting my eyes with their iridescent appearance and reflection. Not that it was overwhelming – it wasn’t. It was that their lighted reflections were simply amazing. Their appearance was beyond belief and thought. They looked like stars against a sand-grained canopy of heaven – yet, I was looking down, instead of up. And it was daylight, or at least it would be for a couple of more hours before the sun finally set and declared that it was bedtime on my part of the spinning sphere we called Earth.

Light had suddenly torn through the sky in between gray clouds, across the dark green field, and onto the individual facets of mica-speckled gravel that dotted the road next to my house. Unbeknownst to me at the time, those rays of light had traveled for eight minutes through space to get there from the surface of the giant, heavenly orb in order to touch the tiny surfaces of the gravel and bounce up into my eyes. Some would say that the light was going to bounce up anyway – whether I was there to see it or not. But for some reason, I was standing in the right place at the right time. And as a result, I saw some amazing things.

It was well worth the arduous trip to get there – okay, it was really only a short walk from the living room inside the house to the dirt road outside. Still, it seemed like a huge trek since I didn’t want to miss watching some show on TV. Now, I can’t even remember what was on, but I’m sure it seemed extremely important to not miss at the time.

Despite the temptation to be lazy and stay inside, I mustered up some strength (or was told to go out) and left the comfort of the soft, interior of the house. And by doing so, I was richly rewarded. Within those next few minutes, I was allowed to see and enjoy wonderments that still reside in my memories, today.

Hundreds of rocks lined the road. Sure, I had seen most of the same ones multiple times before, over the years and earlier that same week. But this time, the rocks stood out as a momentary glance into the inner workings of the brilliance that goes on all the time in the background, yet typically remains unseen by eyes unaware.

A slight breeze blew through right then, too. It was just enough moving air to push tiny, leftover bits of water around on the thousands of facets that were causing the push of radiance from the ground up toward my face.

The gray clouds – that the sunlight was passing through – were the same ones that had just filled the sky and dumped buckets of rain in only a few minutes. Now, they were clearing out – blowing on to other parts East – to wet more fields and roads there and to wash the dirt from other rocks, so the sun could dance across those tiny mirrors and reflect up into other little boys’ eyes, as well.

Kneeling down onto the wet dirt road, I absorbed the sights that surrounded me. The sheer volume of reflecting light rays was overwhelming, yet glorious at the same time. I picked up a couple of the wet rocks and rolled them around in my small palm. With each movement side-to-side and back-and-forth, they convinced me that I now held some incredible form of magic.

All up and down the road, there lay before my eyes an abundance of shimmering, changing particles of light – bouncing here and there, as I walked excitedly. I soon learned that they would disappear and reappear with each drying out and subsequent rewetting. In the future, I anticipated the coming and going of each rainstorm, knowing that the magic of the rocks would return.

# # #

This was adapted from one of my upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

 

Summer Song

The things of the summer song are all caught up in the views from under the tree in the front yard on a July Sunday afternoon. Rocking chairs and table chairs and makeshift benches all brought out in the yard to join up with the official kind of chairs that most people used as their outdoor furniture. The gray hues of the distance disappear and fade into the surroundings that make the Sunday afternoon complete.

Underneath the giant maple tree that turns bright red in the fall, we sit there in the summer and look out around. Shade covers our faces – thank goodness – ‘cause it’s hot. The afternoon ease of temp hasn’t quite gotten there yet, and the mighty grip of heat of midday was still holding fast around our necks and heads, weighing us down as we attempted to play an uneven, lopsided game of two-hand touch football out in Mamaw’s side yard, earlier.

Sitting on the grass again, back under the big tree in the front yard, we catch our breath and take in everything around us. Over to the left is a good-sized garden that she has planted and harvested from for years. Along the edge of the vegetable garden is a row of day lilies that form a border to keep us grandkids out and to give it an outline, some texture – if you will.

That’s one thing that I noticed over the years: she always did things with a bit of outline and texture. That was her version of flair. Never over the top, but enough that it showed she was not content with living with blandness and plain all of the time. She planted flowers, tended fruit trees, and planted flowering bushes all around her house so that it was not only colorful, but that it was beautiful, as well. She had a knack for arranging those amazing things right outside her window in such a way that they were nice to look at. As a result, we all enjoyed them with her.

At the corner of the garden where the yard passed in front of the house and over to the woodshed, there stood the mighty bell. It was rusted now, but it still worked. …and we would still get switched with a hickory if we dared ring it without dire need or cause.

Why? Because it was more than just an old bell. It was the summoning bell: the bell that called farmhands and children to lunch; the bell that called for everyone to “come a’runnin’” (to drop everything they were doing and get to the house as fast as possible); the bell that connected house and home to fields and pastures. For decades, it was the sole form of long distance communication that could reach from one part of our farm to the other. The mighty bell.

Now, though, it stood perched and somewhat slumped over at the top of a fading, aging cedar pole. The reddish brown rust sat there on the bell in contrast and arrogance against the meaning of the bell itself. Yet in some ways, it seemed to belong as a natural part of the aging process and the passing along of time in conjunction with the seasons it had stood through.
Though I couldn’t see it happening or even understand how it was occurring at the time, the rust was oxidizing the metal of the bell and converting it from young to old. Years were passing inside of the very composition of the bell, and I didn’t even know it. That bell seemed to speak to me in some sort of non-understandable ways. Yet, I do understand because I can still see it as perfectly now as I did back then.

The mount – the cedar pole – was as much a part of the sounding device as the rusted bell was. Both worked together to do their job. The pole had to be cedar because only that type would last through the years and stand the test of time.

Ropes that were connected to the bell and hung down alongside the peeling, hairy cedar bark came and went. They never lasted more than a year or so before they broke or snapped. That was to be expected after the first few times it happened. But not the bell. Not the pole.

They would continue to stand there and look back at me as I took in the summer song.

###