Do you really know what you know?
A discussion about perceptions versus reality in watch collecting and life
Have you ever considered the possibility that you are wrong about your own experiences? Wild idea… thought I should post about it.
Imagine sitting with a friend who swears they are not tired, but then they start nodding off in the middle of the conversation. Are they really wide awake, or are they just trying to play it cool, or avoid being a spoilsport?
Some would argue there is no middle ground. Either they genuinely don’t feel tired, or they’re putting on a front, maybe to show off their stamina after a long day or something. There’s no scenario where they are clueless about their actual exhaustion while their body is practically begging for sleep.
Others might argue, “But what about those people who insist they're not sleepy, don’t even seem tired, but then doze off the moment they sit down on the couch?” Good point, perhaps… But here's the twist: their body is practically shouting for a break - heavy eyelids, yawning fits, teary eyes, the works. Yet, somehow, their brain is not registering this exhaustion. So when they say they are not tired, they are not technically lying. Their conscious brain has simply missed the signals from their exhausted body.
Consider another situation. A person who swears they are not stressed about a deadline, but then also seem to be snapping at everyone around them. They might not consciously feel the stress, but deep down, their body happens to be flooded with cortisol, and on high alert.
So, they are not aware of the stress, but throw a deadline their way, and suddenly they are in panic mode. It is almost as if their subconscious is pulling the strings, and sometimes, it takes a trigger like a looming deadline to uncover what's really going on beneath the surface.
Clearly then, it comes down to the difference between what our bodies and minds are feeling versus what we are consciously aware of. Feeling vs awareness. Sometimes, our body is screaming “Rest!” but our brain is muttering, “Nah, I'm good.” At other times, we swear we’re pretty relaxed, but our actions scream otherwise.
On the point of tiredness, this happens to me quite often when I am getting to bed, I know I am tired, but I remain convinced I have enough energy to watch a 15 minute YouTube video - I then wake up in the middle of the night with one AirPod in my ear, the other lost, and my phone somewhere on the floor. Even though this has happened countless times before, I still somehow believe the next time will be different.
Same as that time you swore you were fine with spicy food, but then gulped down water like you had just completed the Comrades Marathon. Or when you said you weren’t nervous about a presentation, but then your hands started shaking uncontrollably and your sweaty armpits were dripping down your body. Our conscious minds might think they're the captains of our ship, but sometimes, our bodies and subconscious are clearly steering behind the scenes.
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Another interesting concept where feeling vs awareness applies, is time. Think about it… there are moments when you might feel like time is slowing down, like you’re stuck in a time warp. You could achieve this sensation through meditation or by using substances which alter your perception of time. You guessed it: despite feeling like time is crawling, your brain’s internal clock is still ticking away at its regular pace. It’s like trying to juggle complex tasks in slow motion – your brain might feel slower, but the clock keeps ticking at its usual rhythm.
So really, if you can genuinely not feel sleepy even when your body needs rest, you can also genuinely believe that time is slowing down for you, even when it isn’t. Right?
Let's say you're taking drugs known for inducing the feeling of time dilation. Even if you and others independently express that time feels slower, it is not a coordinated lie. Each person experiences this subjective time dilation, believing it to be real.
The confusing part is interpreting these experiences because we know there is the speed of time as we experience it… hours, minutes, seconds. Then there is their internal clock speed, as well as the internal clock speed these people are feeling.
Yet, even with these layers, we can still differentiate them. We can say that people accurately report their subjective experience of internal clock speed, even if their internal clock isn’t actually slowed down relative to the standard clock speed.
However, it gets even more complex. Some studies suggest that our perception of time might not actually be altered, but rather, our memory of time is distorted. Our brains are playing tricks on us, making us believe time was was stretched out when it really wasn’t.
When we challenge subjective experiences, it becomes a bit of a mind game. We have to consider the accuracy of our reported experiences versus the reality of what is happening internally. It's a tangle of perceptions and realities, but it’s all part of the fascinating world of how our minds work.
The point being… our minds can sometimes slip up, even in the simplest of tasks. Did you catch it? I slipped in an extra “was” in those last few paragraphs. If you didn't spot it, how do we explain your brain’s oversight? It’s like some subconscious part of your brain saw the second "was” and thought it was out of place, then decided not to alert your conscious mind about it. Why?
Then, if you claim, you didn’t consciously notice that extra “was” - are you accurately reporting your own experience? Do you really know what you have just read? Clearly we can have thoughts, even complex ones, lurking beneath the surface of our conscious mind.
It all comes down to the idea that our minds can hold onto thoughts, even ones as intricate as the inner workings of our subconscious, without us being fully aware of them. There’s a whole hidden world of thoughts and processes bubbling beneath the surface of our conscious awareness, just waiting to be uncovered.
So, next time you miss a little linguistic hiccup like an extra "the," remember, it's not just about what you consciously perceive. There's a whole intricate dance happening within your mind, whether you're aware of it or not.
Many of you will have seen this image before, and it boils down to the same principles. Imagine you're looking at a drawing of a woman under a tree, overlooking two houses, and a tree stump behind her. Perhaps you completely miss the bearded man hiding in the background. So, when asked, you confidently report, “All I see is a woman under a tree, no bearded man in sight.” Now, are you wrong about what you’re experiencing? Do you know what you think you know? There seems to be a whole realm of thoughts and perceptions floating around in our minds, but we are not consciously aware of them; just like not noticing the bearded man in the drawing (or vice versa).
How about another example… Someone claims they can sense a storm coming long before the clouds darken, and they’re genuinely not making it up. Sure, you want to believe them, but it’s difficult to wrap your head around the idea. After all, the skies are clear! Some people genuinely believe they can feel changes in the atmosphere, but who’s to say it’s not just their ‘intuition’ playing tricks on them?
It’s a bit like when you’re convinced you’ve found your life’s purpose, and someone tells you it’s just a passing phase. You’re like, “Yeah, maybe purpose is a bit of a puzzle, but this feeling is real to me, right here, right now.” It is a clash between your inner conviction and outside skepticism that leaves you pondering, wondering if there is a deeper truth you might be missing.
In the end, it is a bit of a mind-bender trying to untangle perception, experience, and reality. Sometimes, you just have to trust the depths of your own consciousness and believe that what you are feeling is as real as it gets, even if it is a journey full of twists and turns.
As watch collectors, our passion for timepieces often leads us on a journey of exploration and appreciation for intricate craftsmanship. Yet, amidst the allure of horology lies a fascinating realm of perception, where our experiences can sometimes deceive us.
Some closing thoughts…
The Hidden Details: Just like in a crowded party where subtle tensions might go unnoticed, watches too hold hidden details that may elude our perception. When examining a timepiece, take the time to look beyond the obvious features. Explore the intricate engravings, examine the dial under different lighting conditions, and scrutinise every component with a discerning eye. Consider how it fits under a cuff, or doesn’t. Consider how easy it is to tell the time i your usual surroundings. Sometimes, it’s the overlooked details that reveal the true beauty of a watch to you as an owner.
Intuition vs. Reality: Consider the example of sensing a storm before the clouds darken. Similarly, as collectors, we may rely on our intuition to discern the value and authenticity of a timepiece. However, it is essential to balance intuition with empirical evidence. Trust your instincts, but also conduct thorough research, verify provenance, and seek expert opinions to make informed decisions. Remember, intuition can be a powerful guide, but it is not infallible.
The Observer Within: In the world of watch collecting, there is often a desire for a deeper understanding of the watches or watchmakers we admire. Yet, beware of falling into the homunculus fallacy - the belief in an internal observer that interprets our experiences without error. Our perception of watches can be influenced by biases, preconceptions, and incomplete information. Stay vigilant, question assumptions, and remain open to new perspectives.
The Quest for Purpose: Much like the pursuit of life’s purpose, collecting watches can evoke a sense of fulfillment and meaning. However, be wary of attaching too much significance to material objects. A watch may hold sentimental value, evoke nostalgia, or symbolise achievement, but its true purpose lies in the joy it brings and the stories it tells. Embrace the journey of discovery, but remember that the essence of watch collecting transcends mere acquisition.
As watch collectors, we inhabit a world where perception intertwines with reality, and the boundaries between them blur. By acknowledging the pitfalls of perception, embracing humility, and cultivating a discerning mindset, we can deepen our appreciation for horology and embark on a journey of discovery that transcends the ticking of timepieces.
May your watches inspire wonder, spark curiosity, and remind you that in the tapestry of horology, every tick holds a story waiting to be told. Happy collecting!
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