Monday, August 25, 2008


There was a program on the other evening, a glimpse at folks who displayed remarkable, if not super human properties, unexplainable variance from limits associated with “normal”. It was presented as a scientific adventure although at time there was a circus like hawking to draw attention, like a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” freak show; just not quite so demeaning. They had a fellow who could endure extreme cold for long periods and there was a talented artist, a man born without eyes and blind from birth who could paint quite well, almost as if he could see. One fellow had a mind which was more like a human calculator with the ability to extrapolate incomprehensible numbers in mere moments.

The topic which most caught my attention had to do with “synaesthesia”, a word which my ears couldn’t pick up and which I looked up later on the internet. A young woman explained how her natural senses over lapped; sight, sound and taste acted in concert creating an interesting quality of experiences. She would hear a word or combination of words while at the same time various colors were triggered in her mind. A similar cross over occurred with her taste buds; they being set off by words or sounds.

I don’t claim to see created colors floating across in front of me, connected somehow with what is being said and the only time my taste buds savor plump blackberries is when I’ve actually placed one in my mouth; however, there are times when I close my eyes and enjoy wonderfully rich displays of vibrant color. I’ve never viewed the Aurora Borealis, at least not first hand, and yet that sort of all encompassing ribbon presents itself now and then when my eyes are closed.

Sometimes the manufactured vision looks like the gentle flat sands of a beach as a thin layer of an ocean wave scurries in its retreat leaving a ripple of reflective green, interspersed on that patchwork are iridescent bright green and aquamarine puzzle pieces on an ever changing kaleidoscope. The feeling associated with the general green reflection is one of peace and tranquility. Once in a while, instead of a pleasant green, the colors center, more or less, around a curtain or large rectangular object, an intense deep red with contrasting shadows of black extending to the farthest reaches; no doubt a foreboding or warning.

Are these “visions” meant to correspond with thoughts currently contemplated; maybe, perhaps and I really have no clue. What’s the line from the psychiatrist, “You need to come back for treatment until you run out of money; then and only then are you cured.”

Folks don’t go around in general conversation about such things; perhaps everyone enjoys such distractions when their concentration powers are not engaged in making a living or maintaining the most basic supports of life while those with advanced stages or those who’ve learned the finer points of appreciation are permitted the extra indulgence of having words trigger color and taste while going about their daily chores. Some folks see rain while others see the rainbow, isn’t that how it works?

It occurred to me that the manner in which information is stored by our brain, each of us having unique experiences and associated emotions that are triggered by those experiences; that our filing system for data would determine our varied responses and provide a glimpse at why some folks laugh while yet others would find nothing funny at all with the same circumstance. I do know that the sense of smell is a powerful emotional trigger, one which is able to transcend time momentarily, transporting individuals many years into the past and across great distances.

Once in a while upon entering a building, one which has aged to some degree, there will be a slight odor caused by years of dust that might have accumulated in a corner, been mopped and left to dry again and again. The familiar scent finds a nerve as it passes through the receptors in my nose and goes in a flash to a memory folder tucked away deep inside, back where it hardly ever sees the light of day. Instantly my eyelids close, having been alerted by the flash of memory circuits now in a frenzy to enjoy the moment, as I’m taken hundreds of miles away and back to when I was a young boy standing in the stairwell of my grandparent’s apartment building; that’s where I first became aware of the particular odor. I’m only guessing; but most folks wouldn’t associate such an odor as pleasant and desirable.

Yesterday while attending one of my meetings we were discussing the process whereby an individual is “reborn”, that change of heart and mind associated with the conversion from the natural man into a saint. Several scriptures had been read as we came to Alma 36, as Alma testifies to his son, Helaman regarding his miraculous conversion.

“Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:21)

The point was made that the exact same words explained both the worst and the best feelings; how could the same words be used in such a way? I thought of the combination of words, “great and terrible”, used throughout the scriptures as a means of expression.

Somehow, in my file boxes of memories, the movie City Slickers came to mind; more specifically, the scene where the “boys” are comparing notes about their best day and their worst day as a means of entertaining themselves while out in the middle of a cattle drive. “The worst day was when they found a spot on my wife’s breast x-ray; all the worry and fear that goes with the possibility of it being a malignant tumor. The best day was when we found out nothing was wrong; same day.” I may have taken liberties with the exact quote; but you get the idea.

As pertain to the idea of “great and terrible”, the movie City Slickers had one of the best analogies that came to mind; however, the moment I mentioned “City Slickers” the rest of the room dismissed the possibility of anything which followed as having to be a light hearted joke rather than consider the information yet to be shared. In their minds, file boxes of memories if you will, City Slickers was a comedy and nothing more; interesting how that works. I did manage to blurt out the remainder of my thought, which may or may not have hit the mark; and left me with the notion that perhaps the open discussion wasn’t nearly as welcoming as I’d hoped, a cold reminder that my sense of humor, coupled with my sense of what is serious may not coincide with those around me.

When the meeting was over one of my friends came over with a smile on his face, holding his index finger as an exclamation, yet another reference to the movie City Slickers, “I thought you were going for the ‘real meaning of life’ for a minute”, followed by a laugh as we both replayed Curly’s gloved hand scene. No, that had never entered my mind, at least not until later. I guess my file system works differently.

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