Instinct

From a prompt: Is there anything you, ‘just know’ and have no explainable or rational way to explain how you know it?

Ah, the infamous “sixth sense”. We all want to see what’s ahead of us, and we all want to believe that there is some way or another to see the future. A lot of this figures into my writing, actually, since most of my characters do have those abilities, and try to use them to benefit others, as well as themselves. It’s a very human curiosity.

Do I have something like that? In a manner of speaking. No, I don’t know what people are thinking. I can’t read minds. Nothing like that.

But what I do have is an uncanny instinct for knowing when there’s trouble, and I am never wrong when my alarm bells go off. What it is, I can’t explain, although someone – possibly Gayle, but I’m sure she wasn’t the only one who said it – put it well as your brain computing things faster than your conscious mind is aware. Whatever it is, I have no explanation for why I have it or how I came to acquire it, but the minute I get that little feeling in the pit of my stomach, I know something is very, very wrong.

But one way or another, I have yet to be wrong when I feel something’s awry. I attribute it to having spent four years deeply entrenched in criminal justice and psychology studies, and thus acquiring a very precise knowledge of people. People’s behavior, however complex it seems, is actually quite predictable. So when someone begins describing a set of circumstances to me, a red flag will pop up in the back of my mind and I’ll know later down the line that it was fully justified. Similar when I walk into an unfamiliar situation and know immediately whether I should remove myself from it now or later.

I don’t particularly enjoy having the knowledge, though. In fact, there’s little I wouldn’t give to be or my instinct to be wrong about something, but that’s yet to happen. You may think, “oh, that’s great! I can always see ahead and avoid trouble!” – not really. It’s not at all great because while yes, you can avoid trouble, trouble sure as hell will not avoid you in turn. Troubles always come to roost, they don’t swerve out of the way. And not for nothing, but it gets very mentally exhausting to always know that no matter what, you’re always going to be the one knowing that something’s going to go wrong. You get used to asking yourself, “What’s the catch?” and answering your own question.

Frankly, I’d still love to not have this little ability for at least a few months. For once, I’d like things to be unpredictable. I would like to be pleasantly surprised and see that my concerns are unfounded. I would like to be wrong when a friend tells me about a situation and my alarm bells go off. Considering the deluge of what’s in the news right now, good surprises will be quite appreciated.

Nonetheless, it’s a useful little thing. Trust when I say that I’ve kept out of a fair share of trouble because of this instinct. This instinct, and some sound and impartial – and harsh – advice from close friends, kept my head above water and kept me out of sticky situations for years. I’ve kept friends out of trouble with that instinct as well.

This is also why I always say: your gut instinct never lies, and trust it above all. There’s a lot to be said about trusting yourself; we as a whole don’t do that enough. It requires putting our own wants and hopes aside when we’re in something, which is not part of our nature. But when the instinct does talk, it’s imperative to listen.

Until next time…

K.G.

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