We all know that the mundane drifts towards sacred knowledge and from time to time it gives us a flash of awareness of what's behind the boring curtain of the reality we live in. Almost like a presque vu but with a headache.
The other day at 9 AM sharp I arrived at my local post office to ship 30 Kickstarter packages internationally. Rosa, the post office clerk, had to scale each package, type my and the destination's address into the computer, put the the customs form into a plastic cover, attach it onto the envelope and set it aside for pick-up. Each package took about 5 minutes for her to process. After Rosa worked on 3 packages I did my calculations: 5 minutes x 30 packages = 150 minutes = 2, 5 hours + after every 10 packages Rosa has to take a couple of other customers for 10 minutes so that line doesn't get too long = 3 hours in the post office at minimum.
It was pretty certain that Rosa will not process my packages unless I was there by her window. So I resigned myself to the 3 hour wait (you can fly from JFK to Miami in 3 hours!).
To make my wait to seem shorter I pulled out my sketchbook and started to draw. My favorite drawing exercise is to follow where ever the first 3 random lines lead me.
I drew this:
And then I drew that:
But when I started another drawing I noticed that I was not able to to see it as a whole, parts of it were blocked out by some blurry spots of non-vision, like this:
- Oh no! - I thought in a flash of panic. - My eyesight it getting really bad. What if I am not able to draw all the 30,000 drawings for my new animated feature film? My Kickstarter backers will be upset! My whole career will be destroyed! And what about my reputation!
I looked around. The rest of the world also had spots of this non-vision. Another, more alarming thought entered my mind.
- What if this is not trouble with my vision but with my brain? What if I am experiencing brain hemorrhage?
My heart started to pound. I wanted to shout out to the other 9 customers standing in line:
- Call 911! I am about to pass out!
But I remembered that for the last 20 minutes those 9 customers had been casting ill wishing stares at me and my suitcase full of international packages that had yet to be processed.
I turned and looked at Rosa. Suddenly, the spots of non-vision turned into a bright shimmering sharp joint zigzag lines that looked like Great China Wall that decided to be more aggressive on both sides.
- Ah! - I sighed with relief. - I know what this is!
It was the Scintillating Scotoma that I experienced for the first and only time on February 14, 2013, 7 hours after our Kicstarter campaign for "Rocks In My Pockets" had concluded. This Scintillating Scotoma was followed by a paralyzing headache. And I think it ripped the fabric of my brain in some places because afterwards I was dizzy for 3 weeks as if I was walking on a ship crossing stormy seas. Holding onto walls while walking was my solution.
I knew now what would happen. As Rosa processed the package to Australia a mild headache hit and followed me when I returned home for lunch at 1 PM.
To show respect and become more friendly with the pain and scotoma, I looked up its description on Wikipedia:
"Some describe seeing one or more shimmering arcs of white or colored flashing lights. An arc may take the form of a definite zigzag pattern, sometimes called a fortification spectrum, because of its resemblance to the fortifications of a castle or fort seen from above."
YES. How did they know?
Suddenly, this very special and very personal event of experiencing migraine aura in the post office became a super social event that connected me with millions of people before me, after me and people alive now. If I was able to describe my personal scintillating scotoma as zigzagy fortifications of a castle or fort seen from above and millions and millions of other people described it as the same, how could we not say that our brains are made of the same material producing the same effect when presented with circumstances of stress, too much caffeine and a long wait in post office?
It felt assuring that my brain produced the same magical electric hiccup as did the brains of other people. It was a proof that I was human. And for reasons unknown I was chosen to be given the sacred knowledge of Scintillating Scatoma even if it ripped the fabric of my frail brain one more time.