Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Knee Jerk

How well do you trust your instincts? And are there truly different kinds of instincts, like mother’s-instinct and police-instinct? And finally, can you learn how to create instinct (where none exists) so that you’ll somehow know that the Chicken Piccata may not be the best choice for anyone for lunch today?

Years ago, my mother signed us up for a seminar on a beautiful Saturday called “How To Tap Into Your Natural Instinct”…otherwise known as “We’ve figured out a way to charge $50 per person and get a group of otherwise intelligent adults to sit in some stuffy room on a gorgeous Saturday to talk about improving on something that may or may not exist, with the full knowledge that you’ll never know for certain if it helped, because…well…instinct is abstract….yes, that’s what it says in our brochure and we’re sticking to it.”

I remember absolutely nothing about this seminar. This does not mean that it wasn’t insightful, though…it just means that maybe I should have opted for the “Improving One’s Long Term Memory” seminar that was going on down the hall. My family will be the first to tell you that my memory is completely shot and if I ever need therapy (insert obvious self-depreciating joke here) I’ll undoubtedly be considered a survivor of some sort of life-threatening abuse that I’ve skillfully managed to sub-consciously block. I’ll then need to revisit every argument I’d had with my parents (there were plenty) and every fight I’d had with my siblings (there were even more of those), with the end result being a standing Thursday appointment and a heavy prescription for Prozac.

You may wonder how I could say that it was a gorgeous Saturday if I don’t remember anything about it. Well, that’s the thing about discriminative amnesia…we remember what we want to remember. I remember it was a beautiful day, because I have the ghost of a feeling that I was reluctant to spend several hours indoors when the weather was so…pulchritudinous. (Yes, even then I was the lover of the big words…hey, Jackie!) This translates to my having probably given my mom a hard time about going…even though I’m sure she gave me a decent heads-up and probably even asked me ahead of time if I’d wanted to go. In hindsight, maybe my instinct was that I shouldn’t go…(I was probably a closet instinctively-gifted individual at that time, unbeknownst to me and underappreciated by all those around me.)

Interesting, considering that I’ve rarely if ever felt any sense of instinct whatsoever. It did kick in when Connor had his first severe reaction to sesame seed…but it left me high and dry when I went to open up a (very old) plastic bottle of lemonade I found in the back of the fridge and it literally exploded in my hand. Evidently, I have a form of selective instinct….probably very, very rare.

I know…I should definitely be studied.

So, how do we know when it’s instinct kicking in…or just the universe messing with us? The power of suggestion is truly a power to be reckoned with, so (at least for me) it can be hard to tell what’s coming from where. If you hesitate before extending your hand to introduce yourself to that perfect stranger, is that a healthy natural fear of meeting new people or some instinct that they could be the serial killer whose picture you saw yesterday whilst on line at the post office? And how does one know when to over-ride that knee-jerk gut-feeling and go for it anyway? Some of my best experiences have happened when I was spontaneous and impulsive…but I’ve also had some doozies I’d just as soon forget.

I think the bottom line comes down to whether you’re willing to trust your own “gut-instinct”. Personally, I choose not to trust anything with the word “gut” in it.

The rest of you are on your own.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, but more often than not, if I don't trust my instinct, I regret it.

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