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We are used to ourselves, and to the way our whole bodies are marvelously engineered–the hinge, pivot, and ball-and-socket joints; the apparatus for speech that shapes sounds into words conveying abstract meaning; the brain and spinal cord commanding our little finger to move on our whim; and even the little pocket of extra flesh in our elbows that presumably allows us to bend our arms freely. These are just a few of the daily wonders we live with. Yet sometimes, our bodies behave strangely, forcing us to take more notice. For me, sleeping and dreaming is territory for the uncanny, but that’s not the only place I’ve experienced odd physical phenomena.
Nighttime Hallucinations: I remember these starting from when I was about nine or ten. They increased in my early twenties, and now seem to have mostly faded away. My best explanation is that I unluckily opened my eyes when I was dreaming, and saw characters from my dreams parading around me. I say “unluckily,” because these were mostly unpleasant creatures: bugs crawling over me, spouse with his head replaced with that of a dog, menacing canine-ish creature in the fan. Others were just creepy: A young girl in Victorian-era clothes playing on the floor of my room when I was nine, and years later, instead of a lamp, a miniature woman in a Civil-War era green dress standing on my bedside table. Whenever I witnessed these things as an adult, I’d think, “Okay, I’m really awake–my eyes are open–and it’s still there, I’m still seeing it.”
Sounds Inside the Head: Occasionally toward bedtime, I’ll sense a snap or bang, and know that it came from in my head, not outside of me. Common sense prevails, and I opt to go to bed without consulting Google.
Subconscious Problem-Solving: I’ve found that when I’ve hit a wall trying to figure out something for work, the most effective path to a solution might be to stop thinking about the problem altogether. I simply let go of it and turn my attention to other things, in one instance even purposely giving the conundrum to my subconscious. After perhaps a day or two, the answer just comes into my head. If I’m remembering right, the time I fed the problem to my subconscious overtly, a complex solution emerged in full detail. This might be something to try next time you have writer’s block.
Weird Injuries: When I was 13, my knee popped out during a competitive game of four-square. I had to be assisted out of the venue feeling like my whole being was subluxated and inflamed. Weeks later, a couple of kids wrestling on a hayride accidentally kicked out my knee. From then on, either knee can surprise me by suddenly giving way, to varying degrees of severity. When it really happens good, I hear a deep crack as I go down. This, in spite of an orthopedic specialist telling my parents that it would stop once I finished growing. Fortunately, regular exercise keeps sudden collapses at bay, although the knees get sore if I try to ride a stationary bike or do other unaccustomed activities. Then in my twenties, I started getting the mystery lumps around my knees. These would be dormant, then appear suddenly and keep me from straightening my leg, or wedge into the side of my knee so I couldn’t budge the lump or move my limb without laughing loudly in the excruciating pain it caused. One doctor solved the puzzle–these mobile lumps are called “joint mice,” and are actually pieces of cartilage that broke off at the moment of knee trauma. He seemed keen on operating to remove them, although he, like the orthopedic doctor years before, warned me off surgery to tighten up the knees.
Song Vibrations: My friends and I discovered a strange thing we could do with our voices. Back when I was eight or nine, with no TV or electronic toys, we sometimes liked to cluster together and belt out songs as loudly as we could. I noticed (and presumably they did, too), that our voices would meet and clash in the air and produce a new sound–a vibration that was a different note than what we were singing. We were probably all on a different note, technically, but the point is, it sounded different from what we were singing. It was like taking paint colors and mixing them to produce something brashly different from the original input. Try it sometime–if you can stand the din.
I might add more examples of odd physical events in the comments–feel free to describe yours, too.Published in