Oh the mysteries of Synesthesia! Don’t trust the internet’s definition – don’t trust anyone’s definition.
Because each Synesthete experiences and defines it differently. How do I know? Because I have a form of Synesthesia known as Chromesthesia – sort of.
I see colors, experience differing tastes and even have heightened emotional experiences when I hear sounds, touch something, see or hear a living creature (I’d say people here but it’s more than just people who have their own unique “spatial fingerprint”) and even at the memories and anticipation of these things.
A friend of mine who’s an awesome writer** & all around great guy suggested that I give an example here, so in the spirit of things I’m going to use our friendship as the example: We met on Twitter – I go there to flesh out those great indie writers & musicians that I would otherwise not connect with. Adam’s first book had recently come out and his personality is so compelling that I started following him, bought his first book, then second, & have now pre-ordered the third (all in Kindle AND Paperback). I connect best with paper pages that I can touch; each character takes on a more vibrant shade, scent, and overall feeling of their own when I’m touching the paper. As our world becomes more “inorganic” (due to the Internet and quick ease of text messaging) my neuropathic superhighway is speeding up; it slows back down and becomes more vibrant when I’m face-to-face with someone in the “organic” real world.
The thing about Adam is that he is extremely engaging (look out world)! Even in text/print I was sensing energy, kindness, excitement, & a lovely shade of purple with a scent of gourmet cooking in the background. While reading the Kindle version of Along Came a Wolf, I began a dialog with him – getting into his head a little as I enjoyed the book immensely.
He eventually asked if I would be interested in writing & recording a song for his book promo. I’d never thought of anything like that before but absolutely wanted to do it and join in on The Yellow Hoods’ fun, so I wrote a song. The song has a cacophony of colors, scents, & flavors. As Adam entered into the process it became even more compelling. He sent me a video critique that I watched dozens of times because I had his actual voice to connect with – he remained purple, but the hue turned into a deep rich Byzantium!
We’ve become friends for life! He even shared that I am officially an “adopted” sister and member of his family. At that revelation, overwhelming tears of belonging set in and a rainbow of colors swirled around me. Knowing that I will be meeting him and his family soon is very exciting for me. I already sense hues around his wife and kids – it is always interesting to find if my mind found a person’s true color & sensation before meeting them! (I’ll keep you posted!)
(By the way, I’ve met, and stayed with Adam and his wonderfully colorful family, and yes, he is very purple! 🙂
So now every time I get a message from Adam (written or via his amazing and entertaining video blogs) I feel his familiar dark purple, sincere, goofy, truffle filled personality.
That’s how it works with everyone I meet!
That is about the best I can do at giving you MY defining experience with Synesthesia. I wish I could allow you to see and experience what I do, but short of a Vulcan mind-meld, it’s just not going to happen. Sorry!
This slightly more scientific “definition” may help: “According to one idea, irregular sprouting of new neural connections within the brain leads to a breakdown of the boundaries that normally exist between the senses. In this view, synesthesia is the collective chatter of sensory neighbors once confined to isolation.” The website associated with that loose definition is quite interesting!*
Am I attempting to explain Synesthesia? No. This is my personal blog about my personal life, which is largely based in music, so it is immensely relevant to me!
All writers use life, imagination, dreams, knowledge, etc. to produce their own unique work of art. I’m no different. You’ll see bits of my uniquely colorful, sensation-filled, and emotional personality in everything I post, whether I wrote it or not. Yes, my song “Everything” (music pending) has its roots firmly planted in how I see life, but like all of my songs it is also embellished with artistic and poetic influences…
So the next time you see me (if you see me) gazing intently into somebody’s eyes as they speak, I am not attempting to use my Superhuman colorful influences to hypnotize them, I am intently hearing, seeing, tasting – experiencing – everything they say!
I can be caught weeping at the symphony (and a plethora of other places – living amongst such grand forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, etc. that is the Pacific Northwest is QUITE the daily experience for me, although I can pick the beauty out of a crumpled up can – so there’s that).
I can often be found with my eyes closed using noise-canceling earphones, ear buds, or earplugs to quiet my mind and focus on my life-long friends, the colors, tastes and emotions that I was born with and carry around at all times. (I do resonate with the above mentioned scientific definition’s reference to boundaries and mental chatter – I struggle with both!)
I will probably be reshaping and editing this for a while, so feel free to leave comments and suggestions. I’m also very open to hearing anyone else’s experience with Synesthesia in its many forms!
I hope that your own unique life is filled with enough music to move you, enough wonder to enjoy the beauty around you, enough strength to endure the challenges, enough friendship to guide you on, and plenty of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration to pass around to others!
“If you ask synesthetes if they’d wish to be rid of it, they almost always say no. For them, it feels like that’s what normal experience is like. To have that taken away would make them feel like they were being deprived of one sense.”
— Simon Baron-Cohen, synesthesia researcher at the University of Cambridge