Non-visual imagery

Flying is not something special for me these days. It’s pretty routine. I still agonize over what I’m packing and in general still pack way too much, because I can, unless I have a need to pack tight. Even with all the routineness of this process, one what I curse at times because I just want to be wherever ‘there’ is without the flying part (fingers crossed for a transporter in my lifetime), that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have moments of awe and insight.

Forever and ever I have been able to keep myself entertained. As a grown up I have a kindle. I have music. I have movies. I have paperback books. I have my paper journal to write ideas into and I have my laptop to type ideas into as well (like right now). I usually have my trusty iPod nano 6th gen Product Red 16gb (great amount of space versus the 8gb size) who’s main and almost exclusive reason for being is to play podcasts, primarily WNYC Radiolab (yummy brain candy, thank you Meghan). The screen is too small really to be viewing pictures. On the plane I’m not using the radio. There’s no treadmill (yet) on the plane to use. I can flex my feet and calves as I can and need to.

Over the ear headphones plugged in. A different sound quality than earbuds that are in the ears. The over the ear headphones are open to the air instead of the sound dampening and dissociation from the outside world of the in-the-ear headphones but it’s more comfortable. Once I’m at the gate it’s time for the podcast playing to start. With music, I think most of us might subconsciously have learned some of the words and we find ourselves singing along even if we really haven’t been paying attention to those specific words being drawn from our lips. An audiobook can be like music to me. I’m usually listening but sometimes I just zone out and I’m only hearing it. But a podcast to me is all about being an active listener. I’m trying to pay attention to the stories. Whenever I can’t hear it, I pause it for fear of missing something important or story changing.

A moment of calm finally happens. The safety briefing from the flight attendant is over. Drinks are passed out. The flight is coasting along. People are engaged in their devices, phones, iPads, kindles, etc, and of course me trying to listen to the podcast. As I settle back and listen more deeply, eyes closed and leaning back into the seat, the story unfolds into my mind.

The specific podcast I don’t think matters and that this wasn’t the first is irrelevant. But this was the first time I chose to try and put the experience down into words. If you’ve ever found yourself reading a book and remembering more like a movie than by the words, this is the same experience. Instead of the written word flowing through your eyes into your creative brain area and making a movie, the spoke word slips and slides through the ears, maybe into the same area. Based on my experiences I make an approximation of what the people might look like, the background audio effects heightening the experience to draw into your mind what you are hearing. The conversation and story going back and forth, I almost want to look around to see the people and the things they are talking about. It’s a great drifty experience.

At some point the words start to disappear and the visual experience in my mind takes over. It’s now me watching the story, sometimes with the voices ghostly in the background as they are disconnected from the new environment or people that they have brought in. Back and forth the visual environments change from location to studio. It’s making me long to get onto a different flight to a different location and experience what they are going through. Work might be upset though if I don’t show up. :)

Interruptions are unavoidable. Announcements about changes or turbulence, time for the plane to descend and time for the large electronics, like the laptop I’m writing on, to go back into the bag. I hope the experience will stick with me long enough to keep writing. Thankfully I have the similar movie experience from books to draw on. Not exactly the same but pretty darn close. I feel, pity I think, for the people I know that don’t experience this type of mental imagery. It’s not that they don’t have imaginations but it seems more forced. They might need to be asked or prompted to think about something to mentally visualize it. Perhaps it’s a mental muscle that needs consistent flexing to make it easier as this is something I’ve been doing since… I’m not sure when I haven’t.

Well, I’m on my next leg of my trip and the next podcast is going to be starting soon. The screen on the ceiling might be good to entertain others with a movie made from someone else but I’ve got my own movie that I’m going to start as I relax and possible fall asleep in my seat. Waking up at your destination is sometimes the greatest blessing.

Mahalo,

-SFA

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