vulnerable for wishful thinking

I email todo’s and notes to myself – recently i happened to grow a little thread (with myself) that collected the following moments of observations. I’d like to compose a blogpost for them and close with some reflections what they might reveal :)


Leaking coffee

Early in the morning i sat in a S-Bahn heading towards Munich. The S-Bahn design is such that each seating-cluster of four has a trash bin mounted under the window – the top surface of which is often used to place small things on during the journey. As on most mornings i got myself a coffee to go. Before placing it on the trash bin i noticed that apparently there was a major coffee leak happening earlier this morning or yesterday; the surface was half-covered with coffee-rings and dried coffee-lakes. After considering the hygienic risks i decided to place my cup on top of the mess anyway. After all, i can drink while holding the cup’s body and won’t have to touch the bottom again – once finished i’ll just tilt it over into the trash.
So far so good… the interestingness started when i noticed fresh coffee at the bottom of my cup after a while – that means it must have started leaking! I found this to be hilarious as this is the first time i got a leaking coffee-to-go cup. There must be bad coffee-cup karma around this trash-bin?? The dried coffee must have inspired my fresh coffee inside to crawl outside through the cardboard and unite in molecular romance??
I decided to leave the molecules to their flirt and just keep drinking as if nothing were. I was aware that there is a “open bridge” for potential bacteria from the dried coffee landscape to enter the intimate inside of my coffee cup and from there into the even more intimate inside of my stomach – however, i rendered it unlikely because the direction of flow was outwards. And also – if i were to catch some sort of sickness from this – it must have been caffeinated destiny, or no??
When i left the S-Bahn i trashed my cup and had a last look at the coffee mess. I noticed how my guilt-feeling expanded from the comparably little pollution i added to what was already there. How strange – i built emotional ownership over the whole coffee-trash-bin-situation… anyway, it would have been unfair to take this chance for profound coffee-mediation away from the next traveler, so i left it as it was.


Zoom trap

My math professor showed something on the wall by the means of a projector. It happened to coincide that he made a window smaller at the same time that he said something with a low volume. My perception interpreted the togetherness of these events – the image getting smaller as well as the lower voice – as me being physically further away than before. I must have zoomed myself a bit a away from the scenery?? Am i still in the 4th row of the auditorium? Yes i am.


Wishing for her gaze

Stopping on the pedestrian path at the red light i am noticing a woman to my left who shows all signs of an attractive women – but only from diagonally behind because she was looking along the street to the left. Eager to see her face to complete my attractiveness-scan i computed through different scenarios how to achieve that. Then i saw a car coming from the left – in that moment i knew she would “mimic the movement” of the car passing in front of her by looking to the right. Of course i did not know for sure but i must have both encountered and embodied such situations before where a daydreaming look to one side is changed to the other side by a passing vehicle without the person really realising it – more of an unconscious pattern of kinetic congruence with the environment?
Well, it worked – and indeed she looked gorgeous :) Of course i was too shy to say anything.


Sleep infection

As always the train home was very full. When an old lady came in i chose to offer her my place – gratefully she accepted. So now i was standing. Because of the position i was at i had around 20 sitting people facing me. Because i was really tired i closed my eyes and supported my head with one hand, the elbow resting on the seat next to me. It must have looked unusually cozy for someone standing in a train – but i really was in a cozy self-cuddly-kinda mode. After a while i opened my eyes again and almost burst into laughter – almost all of the people facing me had also closed their eyes and heads have fallen on their owner’s chests. I must have been an incredibly inspiring role model?? A view over my back to the other half of the wagon convinced me further of my sleep-inspiring skills as not even half of the people there had their eyes closed. I felt amused and touched by this contagious sleepiness amongst strangers that i contributed to.


Remembrance countdown

I was typing something and couldn’t remember a specific word that i was about to write… starring out of the window i tried to remember. I tried to recall all possible association pathways that are likely to lead into the valley at whose bottom i will find that word.  At some point i felt the memory condensing – an “inner blurry memory-smell”. Seconds later i knew that the memory will be back in a fraction of a second and i started moving my hands back to the keyboard. By the time they reached it, the memory was back and i was able to type the word. The most interesting point here was the short period of time between full confidence of remembrance and the actual remembrance.


– – – –


So, what about this little stories? Quite different they are. What fascinated me enough to note them down is that they are in a category of situations that are highly vulnerable for wishful thinking in their interpretations.
I could have easily thought that the bad coffee karma is upon me and that this is a signal to stop drinking coffee. And yes, i might not be a bad idea to reduce my coffee consumption – but to tie that to this experience is definitely possible but not at all logical. It can only and very well be taken as symbolic. That is the crucial difference.
Same with the zoom trap; i could have interpreted this as a reminder to not drift off in my mind and pay attention – i could have seen this as a message sent by my “learning god(ess)”. And again, that wouldn’t be bad – it is just important to distinguish the symbolic meaning i might attribute to the experience and the actual causal chain and combination of events that caused my mind to reach a state vulnerable for a multitude of explanations.
I might be tempted to think i attracted the gaze of the woman with my pure will. What happened though was that i saw the likelihood of an event based on previous observations and attentiveness on own experience. That it coincided with a wish i had in that exact moment did not influence anything of what happened outside of my mind. Imagine i’d have not been attentive to the whole car-passing-thing, then i would really think it was my pure will that made her look my way? And i would go on telling that story and build a fan-club around me…
When i “inspired” the others to close their eyes – this is just what might have happened. No further proof or disproof possible. No magic stranger-love that i exuded right into everyones heart.
The last story of condensing memory might suggest something external that takes my thoughts and gently guides them to their destination. Certainly a lovely thought and unfortunately for most people more attractive than looking to the way the matter of the brain is organised as a graph and how navigation in that graph takes place.

When events are happening aside from statistical average in a way our perception is tricked – it is so easy to see symbols after symbols. We have such a weakness for them. A symbol is a hundred times more worth in gossip-currency and life-story-currency and self-affirmation-currency and giving-away-responsibility-currency than a causal explanation of what happened. Knowledge is more expensive than gossip, magic and opinions. But it does pay back.

P.S.: While i was writing the last paragraph my keyboard must have had a glitch. The delete-key did not release and i had to watch a whole paragraph getting deleted in front of me before the key released seconds later – as if a ghost would want to stop me from writing?? Luckily there is the apple+z command to restore the writing and luckily i can distinguish causality and symbolic meaning.


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Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

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