When I’m reading, fiction or nonfiction alike, I all too often find myself internally “living out” a part of the plot. I mentally “take control” of a main character and unintentionally continue their story in my mind, catching myself only when I register that my thoughts have started to come unglued from what’s actually printed on the page sitting in front of me. When I have a meaningful conversation with a friend, I find myself comparing what I’ve now learned about their thoughts and feelings with what I previously had guessed or assumed they were thinking or feeling. Again, all too often I find I’ve made a now-contradicted assumption about someone without intending to. Personal communication and reading alike bridge the gaps among actions, thoughts, and feelings; for me, that’s what makes them rewarding and fascinating. It may not be a particularly interesting or special word, but due to how it’s affected by reading and communication, “perception” has come to be a favorite word to me.
Another reason reading can fascinate me is with a character’s perceptions. I’ve noticed a pattern where most of my favorite books tend to be first-person and that I enjoy a character mostly through his or her internal monologue. Something similar applies to real people. I build my perception of my family and friends heavily off what I learn they’re feeling or thinking about, particularly off knowledge of thoughts or feelings that I previously didn’t know they had. I often get gripped with an irrationally severe feeling of “not knowing someone,” even if I know many things about them. Even when I truly do know someone well, my mind will often wander and wonder: “What are they thinking about? I wonder how they feel about the world? … about me?” In the same vein, I feel that I will never fully understand the the world I live in. I will continue to amass knowledge about the human race as I learn the intangible thoughts and feelings of others. However, I will never fully understand any one person as long as I continue to constantly, unconsciously make perceptions of them based off only tangible information.
Image Credit: http://www.mcescher.com/gallery/italian-period/hand-with-reflecting-sphere/
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Perception by Noah is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.