I draw diagrams and maps whenever I get a chance. I once had math students tell me they liked that I drew more pictures than others. And I’ve had several people be appreciative about maps I’ve drawn them. I’ve also figured out room and furniture re-arrangement by cutting out scale pieces I sketched.
I have Aphantasia – I can’t see pictures in my mind. It seems counter-intuitive at first that I would thus actually draw more pictures. But I need the pictures even more since I can’t imagine them, so I draw them for myself. This seems to be true of at least many other Aphants in Facebook groups.
The intriguing aspect however is that visualizers want these pictures drawn too! When only given a description in words to a math problem or map directions they still have a difficult time creating their internal picture. Sure they can imagine in pictures, but they first have to understand it themselves!
We’re starting to think a bit about our next big trip. I’ve heard many Aphants say they don’t bother with experiences. They say they can’t remember them enough to justify it. I certainly don’t remember all the details like visualizers do. But I do better at remembering significant experiences than everyday things. Plus you can only live in the present so much – you also need something to look forward to.
I’m also so glad that I’m learning to do trips differently. I used to try to pack in as much as possible to see every sight. That included lots of transfers or driving to include more cities too. Most of what was seen was the exact same things you can see in books or online. I’d also have every dinner planned out, if not lunch too. There was no deviation from the plan – there was too much else to do!
Now I’m learning to do trips differently. The best parts are when you get to see or participate in their culture. Especially in the smaller towns that are away from the big cities. It’s amazing how many festivals go on in small towns away from the tourist traps. You may not see all the sights, but you can find those online. It’s also more relaxing to not have as much to do. Nor every dinner planned out.
So where do we go next? We’ve got a couple of thoughts, and we’ve talked about putting them in a hat and just randomly selecting one!
Talking about Aphantasia is always unpredictable. Some people don’t believe you – its just not conceivable to them that people can exist without the ability to picture things in their mind. Meanwhile others think maybe they have it too, when most of those really just are hyper-visualizers – they think you are talking about degrees of visualizing instead of the entire absence of it. Some don’t care at all, and others want to convince you that you are wrong about yourself or that you just need to try harder.
But there are those that are really intrigued and just can’t stop asking questions! I encountered some of these recently at a gathering. I don’t even recall how it came up, but this was a gathering to congratulate someone else, so I really didn’t want it to be about me that day. We were waiting for that person to arrive when it first came up, but the two people intrigued by it kept talking to me about it the entire time. One is a former educator and the other a pastor, so they definitely try to “relate” to people.
I was glad today to be able to take a copy of the book by Alan Kendle about Aphantasia to one of them. Alan not only describes his own experiences in this book, but also has lots of quotes from about a dozen of us that are in a FaceBook group together. This person asked if it could be shared with the other person from our gather, even noting how they have continued talking about me and Aphantasia since that time! Meanwhile I gave a book to my sister that probably also has Aphantasia, and I doubt it has been touched!
I’m the “Spiritual” Atheist, and so of course I should really be meditating. But meditation looks a bit different when you have Aphantasia. The typical “guided meditation” stuff just doesn’t make sense when you can’t picture things.
For me it is also really awkward to close my eyes to pray or meditate. I don’t know if that is an Aphantasia thing, or an HSP thing, or just an individual oddity. But I often get a bad feeling, kind of like dizzyness, but more, when I do.
I certainly can “meditate” of course. But it looks different in some ways for me. I had a bit of a rhythm in college for a while, when I was in a churchy group. It was mostly being quiet in nature, listening to and clearing my thoughts.
I have not tried much in the intervening years though. Life got busy and I left the church. I raised a family and advanced my career. I’ve discovered I’m good at staying busy. But meditation means I need to learn how to not be busy.