Instinct

Osprey

Once or twice
Out of the blue
I’ve had an epiphany
About Life
The Universe
And the Way Things Should Be
It’s weird, though
Nothing was in words
Or images
Or feelings
Yet I understood it
Let it guide me
In my day-to-day dealings
It was always
At the tip of my tongue
Ready to be said
But the ideas
Outstripped language
To higher truths they led
It all crystalized
Everything came together
And made sense
Although it’s all the same
Everything has changed
Forever hence

—–

Has that happened to you were there was a sudden understanding of Things, yet there were no words?  It wasn’t a “religious” experience, it wasn’t spiritual or even a deeply philosophical one.  It was more like just being, like a bird just “is”, and having an intuitive view of life and of where I fit.  Yet it is deeper, for my brain is able to take in quarks and quasars, super-neutrinos and supernovas.  I can stop and put myself in the place of the bird, or the bug it is about to eat.  Or another human.  I can see the world with eyes of others.  Can the bird?  And it goes farther, for there is an understanding of the economics of life, both the real and the artificial, that we live by.  It is an understanding of the political reality of the world, the social structures we create to make sense of ourselves and try to position people into a hierarchy.  These things make sense, even the totally ridiculousness of the artificial constructs that people call Economics, politics and social structure.  They are ridiculous.  But we have to life within them.

Or do we?

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9 thoughts on “Instinct

  1. Rhio

    Theres a quote I love by Richard Feynman that describes these moments for me perfectly,
    “I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe”.
    That I, a human, made of atoms, is just one atom, or even less, a quark, a string, part of a bigger thing, the universe.
    If I had a tattoo, I’d get that quote on my wrist.

    I also love the quote, I’m sure it was Carl Sagan, that says “We are a way for the universe to know itself”.
    I find it baffling, that animals live without knowledge of the bigger picture, although, dung beetles use stars for navigating, so maybe more of them do know instinctively, even though they cannot understand it.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I think part of our (humanity’s) problem is we don’t see ourselves as a small part of the bigger picture but think of ourselves as the picture itself. Animals have a type of understanding that goes beyond knowledge. It isn’t “better” or “more”, just different. No, those dung beetles have no clue those stars are “suns” that are far, far away, but they don’t need it to navigate. And yet, sometimes we do need to listen to that understanding that is closer to the instinctual level.

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      1. Rhio

        For me, it’s more beautiful to see my life as part of a bigger picture. I love to think about my ancestors, and how I got to being here at all. Even bigger, how the atoms in my body were forged in stars.

        Have you seen wonders of the solar system with Brian Cox? Well, a lot of people complained that it made their lives seem insignificant because the show talked about the bigger system we are a part of. For me it was the opposite. It felt more miraculous that I am here, a human being, breathing, and living, [VERY basically] because of chance that order arrived out of chaos.

        Instinctively, when I became a mother, I felt totally in tune with my instincts. It all came completely naturally to me, even though I had never been a mother before, and even though I had never even held a baby before. It’s quite beautiful, and one of the things that’s surprised me the most about becoming a mother. I make sure I always listen to it, because it’s usually right.

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          I agree about the bigger picture. We are star dust, each and every one. Isn’t that cool? We were once part of a supernova. I’m the child of the supernova… That from the total chaos of a nebula we have organized enough to sit down and think about these things, to wonder about the universe, our place in it and how the bits that make us up started as simple particles in the big bang. I’m with you in that I find wonder in those thoughts.
          I obviously don’t know how instinct takes over when becoming a mother, but I get it. We do need to understand that side because it is often smarter. Of course, that side also holds the survival side which can bring out our violence, but our conscious minds should catch that and let us listen to our intuition and instinct on the other matters.
          Very fun to think about.

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  2. brittabottle

    I think it’s the way we live within them that is most important. We can take part in these cultural constructs with the understanding that we are more than them, that there is life beyond them. We make this constructs, as complicated as they are, for convenience, really–and we can choose to live outside of them and become social outcasts (which some people don’t mind at all) or live within them with the understanding that there is more out there than meets the eye.

    I’m reminded of a quote by Edward Abbey: “I am not an atheist but an earthiest. Be true to the earth.” For me, this quote is a reminder that there is more to life than the constructs we create–and if we pay attention to the world around us and honor that world in the best way possible, we will reap so many benefits.

    Intuition is a powerful thing and it’s something we are taught to disregard at a young age, I think. We are taught to believe in logic and to disregard feelings–which I think is really harmful. Overall, I’m not particularly religious, but I do believe there are forces working in nature that are outside of human control–forces that can lead us to better understandings of ourselves if we really listen to them. I mean, for me it wasn’t logical to leave Thailand–I had a perfectly good job and my Thai salary was above average for foreign teachers; I had all these opportunities to travel, especially since traveling within SE Asia is dirt cheap; and I would be leaving that to move back to the States, live with my parents, and be unemployed for a time. I had no guaranteed job back home. I realized, though, that relying on logic was keeping me from following my dreams to a happier and healthier life. When I really tapped into my intuition, I realized I had to leave–and that perhaps I needed to cast aside the rigid plan I’d had about my life in Thailand and trust in the unknown. I’m still unemployed, but things are shaping up in my life–so far, trusting in that unknown has been working pretty well for me. :)

    Thanks for this thought-provoking piece, Trent.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      And thank you for your thought provoking comment :) If I were to answer it the way I want it would be ten times longer than the original poem and paragraph. Oh well, I’ll try to keep it short ;)

      Intuition – that was the word i was looking for for the title. I wrote the post off of the top of my head while taking a short break at work, but my mind went blank when it came time for a title.

      In response to another person I said “We are such a language obsessed species that we try to make sense of everything with our words, yet sometimes a fuller understanding sometimes happens when we suspend those words.” which is part of what I was trying to get at. It’s funny, some of those things I understand better without words are those things that we have created with words and ideas – the idea for the poem came when I was thinking of the socioeconomic classes in America but couldn’t find the words I wanted to describe what I “knew”. Intuition. Our logic is often tied to our language – “If A is equal to B and…” you know the rest – it’s all language based. But that intuition, it comes from someplace else.

      I agree about the “forces of nature that are outside of human control.

      Anyway, I’m glad to hear things are shaping up. I hope those “unknown” forces lead to something interesting. And perhaps if you do find your way to DC a job will find you.

      Thanks for your comment!

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      1. brittabottle

        Absolutely, Trent. You bring up a good point that logic is language based…although I myself love language and love the way we writers can play with language to create beauty, you’re right–there are just some things that language can’t possibly describe. It’s part of the beauty and wonder of life. :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      We are such a language obsessed species that we try to make sense of everything with our words, yet sometimes a fuller understanding sometimes happens when we suspend those words. “Communing with the Universe” is good, but sometimes it is an understanding of the man-made. But yeah, you get it.

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