Seeing Green (And Yellow and Purple)

December 10, 2014 2:54 PM

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The thing I most remember about second grade is the week we spent looking at optical illusions. Staring at pictures of M.C. Escher's impossible staircases, the idea that my eyes could see one thing and my brain could think something totally different was mesmerizing. The world was suddenly full of impossibilities and also possibilities -- a painting that could simultaneously be of both an old woman and a young maiden. Several years and many "gotcha!" moments later, I now trust my eyes less than ever before. Seeing and believing are not synonymous, as those optical illusions can be rooted more deeply in cultural beliefs. Half of the difficulty with empathy lies in the fact that we can never truly know how others see the world, either literally or psychologically, but as we grow older and more settled in our worldview we tend to assume otherwise.

I have synesthesia, a strange mental phenomenon that creates involuntary connections between sensory pathways, and the version that I have causes me to see associate colors with letters and numbers. It's really not that exciting -- it's not like I'm living in some sort of trippy, rainbow fantasy or ...

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