Oct 9, 2007

Conscious thought

Walking into the office, I am usually loaded with stuff – two lids, two riding jackets (one, thankfully, I'm wearing), plus a pair of formal office pants to change into (even the mesh overpants feel better without an under-layer in Mumbai weather) and so forth.

Point is, I pass a long, slim corridor between cubicles on the way to mine. The walls of this corridor aren't plain either, consisting of a series of cupboards stuffed full with papers. The paper always causes one door or the other to be ajar. And I walk into/snag something in a door handle more or less on a daily basis.

But today, when I walked in, I (don't know why) focussed on the handles consciously for the first time and made it to the cubicle without a hitch.

Which led me to thinking about this. I remember reading (Hurt report?) that most motorcycle crashes occue close to your place of work or home. Could the door handles have something to do with that? You see, I see them handles everyday. After a while, I get 'desensitised' to them. My brain says, 'I know every important thing about them. They're red, spherical and utterly pointless.' And so, I fail to notice the one sticking out on the given day, waiting to catch me out.

It's probably the same thing on a bike. You pass this set of roads daily. Roads so close to your house that you've had time to absorb everything in great detail (why do you think racers like to walk the track, ride a scooter around it and won't say no to a bus ride around a new track?). You've used the road(s) in various forms — you've walked to the shops, cycled to the laundry, ridden past on your way to work, bussed it along one stretch... you've gathered physical information on that stretch in many different ways. So your brain shuts down, and idles along, thinking that it'll restart processing visual and audio information once the roads becomes a little less familiar, or once you get faster on the main roads. Et voila, some idiot catches you out, you have a crash, and prove poor Harry Hurt right once more.

Do you agree?

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4 comments:

dos.wheels said...

Never, ever let your guard down...

Anonymous said...

yeah.. very true !!

i learnt this the hard way.. was cruising along casually very close to my home.. around 10 pm at night..

I never noticed the guy on the scooter crossing the road.. n crashed.. nothing serious happened though.

seems utterly stupid.. but it happened :)

Anonymous said...

According to me, U r SpotON about this. I too have this problem of getting hit in door handle etc etc everyday at my home. This can be true even medically.

sriku said...

very true! I negotiate a couple of blind turns on my way to work every day. And I have to force myself to slow down every morning...I remember once almost riding straight into a slow moving bike just past the bend...The problem is in perception, the mind resists clearing it's perception of an unaltered set of locations...like for instance, if you walk into work, you assume your computer will still be where you left it and so on...Riding over the same route is probably de-sensitizing me to the extent that my instinct to react gets toned down, as I am not anticipating any changes....bleh sounded like I was drunk right there....