Every family has a few legendary stories. One of my family’s stories was how my dad conquered a Chinese Chess champion in a Chinese Chess game with my dad blindfolded. He asked to have his eyes covered which shocked the chess champion who took this as a bit of insult. But the real reason was that my dad thought he himself could concentrate more if he was not looking at the game. He had no problem to see the whole game, visualise every move and think a few steps ahead completely in his mind.
He used to be called a “Cat” as he spent a lot of time lying in bed or listening to his Chinese opera with his eyes closed. The truth was his mind was very active even he looked half asleep. All those big decisions were made with his eyes shut.
I have never discussed with my father the spatial characteristic of synaesthesia. He does not think he has synaesthesia, but his gene may have passed onto his children and his grandchildren, and manifested into spatial sequence synaesthesia.
I see Spatial Sequence Synaesthesia as an invaluable gift that my father gave to me, my children, and my nephews. We can remember numbers, dates, events, solve hard problems, and organise ourselves without necessarily putting things on paper, or physically arranging things around us, all because we have mental maps inside our minds.
I have attached a picture to illustrate how Thomas sees numbers, months, years, and alphabets around him. The reason I say “around him” is because he physically sees them there in specific locations. Both he and Skye are projectors whilst my nephew and I see numbers etc., in our minds’ eyes.
The strongest mental map I have is people and their birthdays building on top of my Month Map. Unlike Thomas’ months going from the bottom left to the top right, my own birth month April sits at the bottom of my map. Every other month sits somewhere in relation to April. April has a bright golden colour. The direct opposite to it are October and November which are very dark and are crowded with people’s birthdays.
I can recall most of my secondary school friends’ birthdays without much problem. Some of them I haven’t seen for more than 20 years and can’t even remember their names. But their characteristics and birthdays still appear in my mind. If I want to recall someone’s birthday, I first think about the person’s face which naturally triggers off a birthday. The face and the birthday are an important association to me. Without seeing a face in my mind’s eyes, I tend not be able to think where I can retrieve the birthday.
I started studying astrology when I was in my mid-20′s and I became very good at it. I have always been very fascinated by planets like my children. Through the astrology study, I understood the importance of an angle formed by two people’s planets, e.g., 0, 60, or 120 degrees apart are harmonious whilst 90 or 180 degrees may be problematic. Since then, I sometimes see angles between two people’s birthdays. One stage, a few people asked me to interpret their chance of getting married, or if a partner was the right partner. But I found myself withholding information as I didn’t want to break people’s hearts. So I knew I couldn’t do this to other people, but astrology has remained as a personal hobby.
I am not the best organised person in the world. Again, in my early to mid-20′s, not long after finishing university, I worked as a consultant at a few clients’ sites. My desk was always the messiest. A few times, my colleagues from the same consulting firm had to come in early to tidy up my desk when there were important people coming to visit that day. Even though my desk looked neater, my mental map started having problems. I couldn’t find my files even though they were labeled and put in right trays according to my colleagues, but these were useless to me. My mind was my organiser and I had locations for all my important files in my mind. I just couldn’t work with a clean desk.
Now with more and more work done on tablets and laptops, I do not have an overly messy desk any more. But my email box has never been cleaned. Many people have different folders for different types of emails, but I have one big Inbox for many years’ emails. I don’t seem to need any categorising system as I can recall who and when a person sent me an email and on which topic. Everything has a relative distance or location.
The interesting thing is people may think my mind is jammed with too much information, but not at all. I always can find room to add more information I need to without missing a beep. The mind is actually vast if each of us explores it properly.