I’ve always had a distinct sense that the number 7 was green. A shiny, glossy green.
Number 8 is red. Nine is purple. Five is blue.
No rhyme or reason to it. No logical explanation. I think of the number 7, and in my head, I just know that it’s green. I never thought much about it.
Then I came across this article at Salon.com on synesthesia: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/01/15/synesthesia/index1.html
Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which activation of one sensory processing system (e.g., numbers or written language) leads to the automatic engagement of a second, distinct sensory processing system (e.g., color) to create a “crossed” sensory perception.
It was the first time I’d heard of synesthesia or knew that associating colors with numbers was all that unusual. Unlike the author of the Salon article, I never felt like a freak because of the color associations, and I never felt a need to close myself off from the color perceptions. I just accepted them.
Now, reading about this article, I wonder if synesthesia has affected my life in some way. I think that more than likely, my synesthesia is simply an indication of my sensitive nature. I remember in grade school when a bee would fly into our classroom through the open window, fear would clutch at my stomach. I was, and still am, irrationally afraid of bees. With a bee in the classroom, I could concentrate on nothing else. I would sit almost frozen in fear and look around at my classmates and the teacher only to realize that I was the only one who noticed the bee. I was nearly always the only one to notice. I sat warily watching the bee fly in big, lazy circles, and wish that I wasn’t always the only one to notice these things.
Sensitivity makes life more difficult, but it’s also a blessing. Noticing the things no one else notices – taking action to fix them. Making other people’s lives a little bit better in ways they’d never think about themselves.