I’ve always been something of a compulsive reader. Even when at times I couldn’t read. I had dyslexia to some varied extent. It would range from an irritation, the words looking wrong, having to translate the nature of what I saw to what others saw that I did not. I heard someone comment; in reference to their dyslexia, that they had learned to imagine a giant blackboard in there mind.
When they came across a word that did not look right, they imagined the word like a puzzle, shifting the letters around in there mind until; with practice, it became second nature. For a kid, still listening to others tell them they were imaginative; but slow. Learning to read faster than anyone else came as a competition; to not be noticed as different or slow.
I imagined that chalkboard in my head, learning to do my math; which I seemed to be good at, on the board as well as shifting my daily puzzles around in my head to figure out what the written word in front of me said.
If you haven’t heard of what a blind typist is, I’ll explain to make my next point a bit more clear. When in high school, I took a typing class. No real intent to want to learn how to type, that was where the girls were obviously; puberty being the common dysfunction we all know it comes to be at times.
My teacher described a blind typist as one who could develop the skill of connecting the words they saw on a page or the words they heard being dictated to them and there fingers, like the magical hands of the artist on a piano, could create the motions that put the words on paper with lightening speed, without ever understanding or knowing in any real way, what it was they were typing. Playing an instrument like the act of typing; becoming faster without the connection of the conscious mind to it.
Now I understand that to be reflex arcs of mind and body, the perfect basketball throw, the world class musician, the race car driver, the average man driving with a big-mac to his mouth, or the woman applying her make-up on as she drives to work. Some accidents determine how well the reflex arc has been imprinted to the automatic level required to remove the conscious mind from the act.
My giant imaginary blackboard becoming for me something of a reflex, at times crashing within the social confusion all children go through. Most of us adults it seems as well once we get there.
I came to understand over time that my imaginary blackboard was still there, developing over time pauses in my conversations with people, when talking about something on the real blackboard in English class. The letters confusing to me; forcing me to develop affectations in my physical manner to delay my answers to the teacher while my mind work furiously to understand the question, figure out the puzzle, and not look stupid or slow to the class.
Funny over time how such affectations still exist within me, reflex arcs of the mind when talking about any subject really. The drive to be seen as bright as everyone else, even if in my heart at times, I was still the six year old kid, slow to read and slow in class, called slow by most who came to interact with me at times. The social pressure of ineptness driving me to dissociate, to be quiet, to not talk or interact socially in so many ways. A lot of you I imagine are on one side of the equation or another. We are all works in progress, sometimes we learn more by the efforts to conform to the status quo, even before we realize it doesn’t matter.
That was the nature of me as I learned to develop how to read. To make things a bit more difficult I had; looking back with my medical knowledge now, I had Synesthesia, a condition that many children grow out of, and I eventually did as well. It is where the brain mis-routes sensory data. When you hear something, it may get rerouted to that area of your brain that processes taste for example. In my case certain letters, certain colors would at times create a ringing or white noise in my head, or I would see flashes of color. To this day I can’t eat spinach, the color green would evoke a burnt rubber taste and smell to the point of getting sick. Some imprinting; you can never really remove from your mind.
When I eventually learned to read, the world started to open up. The stories I came to read, the Greek Myths, King Arthur, Conan Doyle’s Holmes; the dashing bright devil-may-care Englishman that solved crime. I discovered Iliad from watching Kirk Douglas play Odysseus. The fun of watching him driving me to read the stories behind the movie, opening my world to Homer, Pericles, Aristotle. Over time the joy of reading became the joy of learning, of seeking knowledge rather than just a defensive skill in the world of childhood I traveled.
Reading was my sanctuary when I had trouble understanding those around me, or when I could not seem to find the path I innately felt was just around the corner. Each corner another book to lose myself in, the discovery of the world before me and the times yet to come. Science fiction becoming the myths of a future we didn’t really know yet; but knew was starting to come into our collective existence.
There I discovered others who had dyslexia, much worse than mine, under conditions much worse than any I had had to deal with. Great scientist’s like Bell, Curie, Einstein, De vinci, Ansel adams, Hero’s such as Patton, Nobel Laureate’s and the list is so long with so many more. Now I realize of course that the act of learning to use my imagination to organize my world was enhanced by the skills of visualization which I had luckily come to use. Seeing patterns beyond just the surface observations of life around us, projecting them within my mind, challenged me to rebuild the broken connections within the plasticity of my brain.
When I discovered Science Fiction, I came to explore science and mathematics from authors who were for the most part in my day, scientists or thinkers of science in there own right. Such writers, writing there hard won knowledge deep within the stories they came to tell.
When I joined the service I came to love tea, many kinds of tea; the travels around the world opening of new experiences, new cultures and new foods. The form and flow of the tea ceremony I absorbed from the Japanese while stationed there as a Marine; these many years ago. I learned the pace; the presence of action with thought in all that we do. I learned that just lifting a cup of hot tea built the anticipation of the taste, the mood, watching the world around me The ocean waves, the passer-bys at some cafe I sat at watching the world go by.
I came to learn that all things in life; all good things, are an act, a step, a thought, a pleasure, a dynamic bonding of mind, body and spirit; to which the art of how we come to express the synergistic flow of life around us and within us, is the essence of transcendence our souls are driven to experience. And in the experience; wisdom waits to be found.
A book isn’t just words on paper; it’s a masterpiece waiting to be understood, some innate wisdom the author came to find, if only; I, the reader can come to see it as they do.
So when I think of tea or coffee, the reading of a book; that activity some of the tech-zombies tend to make fun of. I remember that the essence of what my “soul shall keep,” is the bonding of my mind, my soul and my body in the art of life, the essence of which connects me to all the lives that have come before me and all the lives that will come after me.
For in truth; aren’t each one of us a book waiting to be read, waiting to be enjoyed, if only I the reader can learn to be patient and listen to the story, learn to sit quietly with an old friend and have a cup of tea; seeing within our collective minds what stories our lives will come to be.