I am not quite sure how to write this one.
The experience was amazing and complex but simple and, most of all, evanescent. It all happened in less than one second.
No, I did not die, see a white light at the end of a long corridor, fall in love or solve the personal and political difficulties of our world with a keen insight.
What I think I did was experience what it must be like to be dyslexic. (My apologies to those of you who are truly dyslexic, and I am not trying to diminish or discount the horrible experiences you have had with printed matter.)
5:30 this morning. I am lying in bed next to my wife of 51+ years. She is reading The New York Times and I am reading the San Francisco Chronicle sports section. My 73 year old eyeballs are focused on the part of the paper beneath the fold—some story or other which had grabbed my attention—and my complete conscious mind was focused on the meaning of the words I was reading.
Suddenly I got a message from some part of my mind (it seemed to be on auto-pilot) that the last word in the headline 8 or 9 inches northeast of where I was focused was “TASTE”. No sooner had that news been telegraphed to my Victor-Self , than I actually raised my Victor-Vision to read the entire headline only to discover that the word was not TASTE but STATS. If you had asked me a second before I would have SWORN that the word was TASTE.
By now you are either fascinated or bored senseless. Who cares what an old codger does or does not see while reading a series of things he could care less about? Well, maybe you will be vaguely intrigued when I remind both of us that what the Buddha and Plato said eons ago is true: What we think we see is not really what is there.
For the Dyslexic my experience is a walk in the park—if only misreading were so simply dealt with. But it is my impression that the dyslexic’s vision mixes up everything without regard to any known rules. And when they concentrate harder, sometimes nothing is ameliorated.
At a level more crucial to the Gen-Pop (a prison term of which I am inordinately fond), our minds should never be trusted 100%. Voices from ages ago pollute our heads (“Your Blacks don’t mind poverty all that much.” “We are being robbed by Welfare Queens”. “Gays are sick and must be cured no matter how Draconian the cure.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re just like your father who should be locked up.”)
Sometimes bored synapses collapse for the sheer joy of it and mistakenly see long lost friends in the crowd. The insecurest of all my neurons demands I be right when my wife suggests I don’t understand what she just said. Fluffy grey matter in my frontal lobe is convinced that some people are really awful and sometimes I am right, but sometimes I am tragically wrong.
None of the above is designed to suggest that I should be institutionalized, but it is in earnest of reminding me that I can have all the thoughts I want, but a percentage of them will always be verkakte! If I want to enjoy a life in what we laughingly call The Real World, I just need to verify before acting like a dick or assuming that The SF Chronicle Sports Editors are writing about TASTE.
And, I have to end by saying my heart goes out to those of you who have struggled with reading since forever. That has gotta suck and it has nothing to do with whether or not you are a genius.