I love watching singers perform. As they close their eyes, they pull emotions from unfathomable depths, and I wonder if they notice the crowd swaying and singing with them. Emotions bubble to the surface, hearts soar, eyes fill with tears, and thousands of audience members connect to a collective, familiar feeling. Everyone at the concert transforms into your new best friend, even if you have never met them. Individual differences, petty grievances, and personal agendas dissolve as we recognize ourselves in the unlimited beauty reflected in the sea of humanity.
It’s not only singers but poets, painters, gardeners, writers, architects, bakers, and every creator who has ever lived who finds access to the source of inspiration by looking inside themselves. I’ve always wondered how we can feel, see, and sense more when we momentarily and voluntarily blind ourselves. How can we connect more fully with others when we block out the world and lose ourselves in the creative process?
Yet, even with our eyes closed, we still see. A kaleidoscope of colors, stars, lines, swirls, flashes, negative images of what we were viewing before shutting our eyes, and pulsations populate the darkened world. Scientists classify the many things we “see” collectively as entoptic phenomena and dismiss them as “visual noise” or “closed-eye hallucinations” or “phosphenes.” They speculate the retina in its resting state produces electrical charges that create the images.
The nineteenth-century psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner baptized what our eyes observed when they remained closed, a color now cataloged in HTML as #16161d – Eigengrau. Fechner pulled from his Saxony German dialect to create a word that poetically illuminates that world. “Eigen” translates as “own light” while “Grau” means simply “gray.” It is the color of nothingness and everything. Somehow it seems fitting.
What do you see when you close your eyes?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer