I woke up one morning, trying to remember a very vivid dream I just had. It was such a comforting dream, and it was unusually vivid than dreams I’ve had in the past. While I often remember when I dream, I tend to forget what my dreams are about; As soon as I wake, they vanish from my mind so quickly.
On this particular morning, I remember thinking to myself: What if it were possible to see images in our minds when we’re awake just like we do when we dream?
Seeing images like in our dreams sounded like a superpower from a science-fiction movie. If given a choice between superpowers such as the ability to fly, travel through time, or see dreams in my waking mind, I would choose the latter, hands down!
As my family came downstairs to join me for breakfast, I decided to share my newfound idea for a superpower. My family was confused. Better yet, they thought I was confused.
“That’s not a superpower, we can already see images in our mind when we’re awake,” chirped by youngest.
“What do you mean you can see images in your mind?,” I chimed back.
My thoughts and expressions went haywire. Am I confused? Maybe I just wasn’t clear about my newfound discovery. So I asked them to imagine being a pitcher on a baseball mound (it’s the only activity I knew none of them had done before).
My step-daughter was reluctant to participate at first, “I am not picturing something in my mind I would never do in my life!” She exclaimed. I pleaded with her to give me 20 seconds of her time (that’s a lifetime to a teenager apparently).
“Ugh! Fine,” she finally said.Teenagers, am I right?
My daughter responded, saying she could picture herself on the mound at Fenway park, and my step-daughter said she could see it vividly too, but she wasn’t at Fenway. As fantastical an image of Fenway was, my wife was even more descriptive in her imagination. She could describe every vivid detail; The colour of the grass, the cool breeze brushing against her cheeks, the people in the crowd cheering. It’s as though she was on the mound holding the baseball in her hand and setting up her position to pitch the next batter at that very moment… all in her mind!
“Okay, but I can’t,” I replied rather somberly.
I am 46 years old, and I just found out I am blind in my mind’s eye. This dream turned revelation was my introduction to aphantasia.
In the aftermath of this discovery, there were so many questions. Seriously, how is it that I never realized people were actually seeing images in their mind’s eye before? I was utterly dumbfounded, and to be honest, a little frightened, but more than anything, I felt relieved to finally have some answers.
I hold multiple degrees, one of which is a BA in Psychology. In my career, I have counselled hundreds of clients and have written extensively on personal development and the law of attraction. I used to think the ability to see what you desire in your “mind’s eye” was just a metaphor.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in a perpetual state of confusion. I felt something was missing in my life, but I couldn’t figure out what. I think back now and remember saying to people closest to me things like, “I feel like I’m in a maze with no lights on” or I’d comically portray Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, “I’m in the dark here. I can’t see anything, Charlie!“
That’s what my inner life felt like at times, total darkness.
How ironic, because when I close my eyes, that’s all I see. The dark with some fragments of light here and there, jumping around like protons. Here I thought that’s what everyone saw when they imagined things.
For the longest time, I believed you were supposed to see a vision, that an idea was supposed to reveal itself like in the form of a light bulb or something. I’ve read extensively on Nikola Tesla’s experience and how he would see his inventions in his mind before creating them in the material world. Tesla wouldn’t touch a tool until he finished building it in his mind!
How amazing it would be to have an epiphany, a flash of genius, or an ability to create in your mind; A visual bridge connecting your imagination with reality?
I always waited for this moment to come, but it never did.
It wasn’t until this fateful morning, that something dawned on me. The so-called “light bulb” went on, and my mind lit up like a spectacular fireworks display, metaphorically speaking, of course.
It was the revelation I had been waiting for, I am blind in my mind’s eye.
I can’t see pictures of my kids or recall the images of important moments in my life. I can’t picture the beach, see the sunrise or sunset, and I certainly cannot imagine myself pitching on the mound.
While I can’t project images of past events in my mind, I know they are there because I can feel the details of them. I have a strong memory and can remember in minute detail every experience I ever had, including the birth of my children. The only difference is, I don’t see them.
I can recall data and facts, generate ideas using that information, and reconstruct moments in my life. More importantly, I can create the same sense of detail in the present moment as it relates to building on dreams for my future.
All this time spent waiting for that “visual” confirmation, and I now realize it was my waiting that held me back.
I know now that I don’t need to see images to reconstruct my memories, and more importantly, feel their essence. I don’t need this “superpower” to know that I am the creator of my own destiny!
I’ve learned that it is the emotion that connects us to our memories of the past, and it is our emotional connectivity that will guide us into our future.
“From where we are to whence we go, it is only our emotion that we bring home.“