The ‘Invisible Floor’
This is an example of a ‘learning event'. By that I mean I saw something that my mind was doing that seemed purposeful, intentioned but the activity was not willed by myself. It happened so that I would notice something in my mind that is nearly impossible to detect. It was as though some part of me was trying to get my attention, to show me something I needed to know. I was at work, doing my job but I'd been assigned to a different station. I would not have had the experience in any location but this one, so the timing was impeccable.
The incident generated a thought and this time I noticed a distinct after effect in my mind. I recognized a visible effect that reflected the words of the thought that had occurred, but they were bundled with no space between the words, extremely rapid. It happened in a flash but I noticed for the first time that the effect also turned that bundle of content around, the words seemed to be aimed towards me. The effect was so rapid, the words were a unit and seemed spoken to me.
I'll describe the incident but I can't describe the surprise I felt, because this time I clearly saw what had happened: a mechanism in my mind transformed the content of that thought in the bundled after effect, into a quite distinct kind of ‘voice’ saying the words of my own thought back to me, with a different meaning and its own context which was produced automatically, not interpreted by me. The reflected 'bundle' of content was 'talking' to me by 're-using' a thought produced by what I was doing. The 'echo' told me what I was doing at the time and showed me how it was created: a real re-view of my own thought.
An artificial voice it was, but the effect was 'like' a voice speaking directly to me. I had already become aware of this attribute to some degree by that point in time, but it had been so indistinct, so barely there that I could never be certain it was really happening. After this event I knew for certain what was creating part of the new ‘effects’ I was experiencing every where. Effects that often made me feel dizzy, or shocked, literally. There are several names for this ‘symptom’, actually its a batch of symptoms. This example was a critically important moment.
In 1987 I worked in the fabrication division of Boeing in Auburn, in a building that was very large and very noisy. I had been assigned to an area that was new to me, the tank line when this event happened. The area is a metal grid work floor with 7 deep tanks embedded in it, regularly spaced with aisle ways between them. The upper part of each tank was above the floor about 4 feet but they were deep, down to the next floor to accommodate large airplane parts carried on overhead cranes to be lowered into various treatment liquids.
It was my job in this area to find job packets and change priorities on them. That meant I had to walk around the tanks/or vats. I walked towards the first tank moving from the solid floor to the metal grid work floor then was suddenly extremely dizzy. I could barely stand up, the floor seemed to have turned to Jello. I clung to the side of the tank to steady myself, wondering what caused me to feel such disorientation. Then I realized it was the lighted room below which made the metal grid work virtually invisible rather suddenly. I remembered also how frightened I’d been when I was very young and we walked across a high bridge with the same metal grid work flooring. I had to be carried across a few times until I understood I wasn't going to fall into the river.
While I stood waiting for my head to clear, a thought occurred into my mind: “It’s just like standing on an invisible floor. It’s like being lifted up, like being in a place where I can see what’s going on around me but I can see what’s going on below me too.” Then I saw clearly, within my mind an extremely rapid ‘replay’ of that content, and this ‘replay’ happened as a unit, without space between the words, so that the effect was to ‘hear again’ that thought, as a package. In 1987 I didn't know a word to use to describe that kind of event. I would not have been able to call it an ‘echo’ at that point.
A few days later, after I had begun to read a book titled Replay, by Ken Grimswood, the content of which is very significant in my context, I realized that this ‘replay’ of thought generated by real world events, my having to walk out onto the grid work floor for the first time had been happening for nearly 2 years. It explained the strange sense of ‘doubleness’ (which I could not at that time name, because it was so rapid), and so many other changes had happened. One change in my mind overlaid everything, causing a kind of ‘reflection’ to occur. But identifying it as one mental change that changed every detail of everything outside my body, discovering that fact took quite a long time and many somewhat similar events had to happen before I could say that.
It had seemed to be happening, this ‘heard again’ attribute, but I could not be certain until this incident happened. This time it was clear that a ‘literal attribute’ as well as the conversational aspect that created 'self reference', a change of direction so to speak, was causing my own thought to seem to be spoken to me the way a person would have spoken those words to me. Words that had been generated by walking onto a floor matched with a memory from my past and the incident caused me to re-experience the same dizziness I’d felt when I was two or three years old. The event created the thought, it was what I think of now as 'object generated thought'. If the event hadn't happened the thought wouldn't have been produced. I don't believe "I" produced it. Somehow it was ready and waiting in some place in my body.
But the 'replay', the 'reflection of my own thought' happened at an almost undetectable speed, the content bundled, no space between the words. The words, turned around towards me had the effect of a person telling me what was happening in my mind, literally saying to me, that I was seeing what was going on in two places in my mind.
To understand this fully as a basis for what many experience as ‘a voice’ in their head, rather than a re-play of a thought of their own, requires understanding that it was new to me. Whereas it seems likely that many people may grow up with this ‘reflection’ as their normal, it was a big change when it began to happen in my mind. I believe it can happen sporadically, as in 'jokes' that create a kind of 'double take'. It's a 'hearing again' literally.
Here's a quick example: A mechanic came into the crib to get his parts, and he was very satisfied with himself as he said: " Lady, I am a babe magnet." I knew something about why he felt so pleased, so I replied somewhat acidly: "Oh, you're a b. m. eh?" His face showed what was happening in mind: He did a 'double take' processing the b.m. as the more familiar 'bowel movement' first, then he laughed and told me 'that's a good one'.
After that I began to talk to a couple of women I worked with and became aware their thinking was often so disturbing to them they could not keep their mind on their work. But before I began to ask people that kind of question, I had an amazing experience with a woman I worked with that caused me to ask her if she 'thought' a lot one day: She complained that her station was too busy and I had almost nothing to do so I offered to change with her. Within a few days she wanted to change back because my station was busier than hers. This happened twice before she told me one day that wherever I worked there wasn't much to do, and no matter where she worked there was too much work. She thought I had some kind of magic that went with me. I found an explanation for why she felt that I had 'magic' working for me. I watched her one day and noticed she processed a paper, then quite often re-processed it, seeming to have forgotten completely having already done it until she got to the last page where she saw her initials, that indicated she'd already processed it.
That's when I asked her if she 'thought a lot' and she sighed as she told me she wished it would go away, her mind was always producing thoughts that bothered her. She had a hard time keeping her mind on her work. At the time so was I, but there was a difference: I was seeing what was going on in my mind and finding a relationship to what was happening' outside my body. Within a few days before asking her I'd watched a documentary about birds building their nest. They seemed to be operating intelligently, planning and accomplishing the task until an observer changed one detail of the ritual. Then the bird repeated the same step over and over when a simple step in the nest building was eliminated. There was a distinct similarity between my co-worker's problem and the bird's.
As an example of how 'mind' can interrupt with its digressions I suggest watching the HBO version of Gulliver's Travels, with Ted Danson. When he's trying to describe his adventures there's often a switch between his here and now world into the world in his mind. I also suggest reading Norman O. Brown's Life Against Death, in two chapters about the excremental vision. Anyone that read Gulliver's Travels as a fantasy may not guess that its a satire about filthy capitalists, Protestantism, a toilet training problem that creates a personality trait of extreme orderliness and being financially tight.