Sunday, 23 November 2008

Familiar from a Distance

For as long as I can remember, I have experienced a neurological hiccup called Synesthesia. Often, when I think of a number, it appears in my head associated with a consistent colour (one is white, two is red, three is light green, etc.). I have a similar experience with letters and sometimes short combinations of letters and numbers (eg. 4a, V5, ErbB-1, 4-OHT, days of the week, months, etc.) produce a similar effect.

Apparently, it has little meaning outside the notion that it is one possible way to wire a brain. I don’t see it as an advantage or disadvantage; it just is. But equally, I would miss it if I woke up one day to find it gone.

So why bother mentioning it? Well, it’s a good example of something that despite its consistency isn’t really there. When I hold it up to close scrutiny, it immediately disappears; yet, I still know that it does exist. I suppose it’s something of a cognitive sandcastle.

For me, belief in ability follows a very similar pattern. “Of course I can…” / “what the heck was I thinking??”. Neither is real, yet they do influence a host of things as far reaching as motivation to the mundane, like crag selection.

I feel at times that I can achieve what I set out to do and align up my life in way which makes failure very difficult. It is who I am. Despite the obvious drawbacks, other modes don’t suit me. Yet, what is this all based on – something that I can’t even put my finger on – and therein lies the flaw and my current pursuit; to make these things more material, to have something to point to. However given the set up, I know that if I was ever to find such a thing, I would have already moved on to the next.

No, it doesn’t always make me happy, but not trying doesn’t either.

You did however chose it for a reason.


Sarah Clough said...

For me, squares are blue, triangles are green and circles are yellow :)
I saw a programme (Horizon or Panorama?) on synaesthesia once and thought it was fascinating.

Jenn said...

Cool :-)

I always used to think that it was just me - but apparently it's quite common.