When I was a kid, I drifted. In my head, I drifted frequently, in and out of the present, turning my tangible world off and on when it suited me. Everyone drifts a little bit from time to time. Even if you’re just scribbling in the margins of your paper in American History, you’re drifting. I scribbled sometimes, but most of the time I just checked out completely.
And I’d play little games in my head. I might have conversations with people I hated. Or with teachers I couldn’t stand, saying to them in my head everything I wish I could say with my mouth. But I’d also play this game with words. It got quite annoying after a while because, once I started, I had a hard time turning it off. And sometimes it would last all day long.
I would catch a word, usually something inconsequential, perhaps a word like (looking around the room) lantern. I’ll use lantern. With that word, I’d try and focus all of my energy on it. Like the Death Star did with Alderaan. Or those bad guys from Krypton in Superman II. I’d roll it around in my mouth. I’d say it over and over again with emphasis on different syllables.
I’d take it apart. Shuffle the letters. And with all the firing synapses I could muster (indeed the whole point of my game), I would try to render it meaningless. When you say a word over and over, so many times, pronounce it in every way possible, it really starts to sound funny in your head. You start to think it’s just silly. Like a fake word. And all of a sudden, this inconsequential little word is a blank slate on your tongue.
It’s kind of a fascinating little trick. And if you want to take it to the next level, try reverse engineering that little sucker. Try to force your mind to turn it back into what it is supposed to be. If you played the game right, it could quite possibly take days for you to remember the familiarity of what ‘lantern’ feels like in your mouth. Try it some time. It’s fun.