Updated: Mar 1, 2019
I was journaling today about things I like to do. I struggle with this task for some reason and that really bothers me. I was listing poetry, food, learning, school, health. I noticed that these things are appealing to me because they combine intellect and intuition.
I thrive on learning new things, on digesting and interpreting new information. My default is analysis for everything from text to emotion to self-appraisal to chemistry. I am very interested in the deepest well of knowledge, something that just never stops and folds in on itself, opening up further passageways to explore. But I also love the idea of a living knowledge, something that I know before I read/hear/know. Poetry has always been a place where I could experiment with this interplay, valuing the individual reader's interpretation of the text through a series of systematically intuitive exercises: the poem. I rely on sound and image, largely, to drive my choice of the-next-word, such that it's almost as if I have to construct some new word out of thin air to meet what I'm searching for. I am able to apply this technique with very little pressure. Somehow the threat of failure feels sequestered in a poem. I think, perhaps, because it's clear if people don't like it: you don't get published/picked/talked about/it goes away. I'm sure if I were actually successful at this I'd likely have a different feeling regarding probable criticism but for now, it's a safe space.
I've come to find food and health to be very similar. I'm always intensely thirsty for the acceptable 'why' by which I mean the NATURAL & BIOLOGICAL science that can back up the things I know and learn. This makes what I think and feel and know to be true validated by other people who have clout and authority, making my claims smart and evidence-based. But the nuance of health and food is also the intuition piece, the slice of the pie that is disregarded as quackary or uselessness despite most of us feeling that this is a real thing (gut instinct, see mother lifting car off baby, etc.) pretty deeply. I have been told so very many times how much I "don't know" about my own body and feelings.
More recently, a gastroenterologist told me it was great and unusual that I was controlling my Crohn's disease with diet alone. How wonderful that you feel so well, he mentioned very enthusiastically as he went through the list of typical symptoms I didn't currently experience. And then the coin flipped. That's good and all, but how do you really know what's going on in there? I mean yes, you feel good, but it could be really bad in your intestines. You will NEVER know unless you ___(colonoscopy/Rx/CT/more doctor visits/endoscopy/MRI)_____. Yes, it was fear-mongering and authoritarian, but I only knew that because I'd been through it so many times. And he didn't mean it that way! He meant to be helpful, encouraging and optimistic with the needed edge of warning to keep us both safe. I left and still cried, feeling like someone smarter than me told me how stupid I was being for avoiding these invasive tests (that I've had many times before). But more than that, he called into question how I could possible know myself. I question that a lot so it's a pretty effective tool in self-diminishing.
The real truth and point here is that there is an intuitive body. There is a part of me that can become quiet enough to notice the differences in how I feel day to day, minute to minute. I may not be able to detect the circumference of an ulceration on my terminal ileum, but I know when it aches. I know that since paying close attention to the things I put in my body, I've been able to mitigate those aches. Sometimes I look at a glass of iced tea and my brain desperately wants it at 4:00 PM and a tiny, tiny voice deep in my belly takes a step back and says, wait, please not right now, we're dealing with the cortisol spike from this morning's traffic, the ice cream you indulged in last night, the repetitive injury of your scrolling thumb, and the long list of bullshit from being a little kid so maybe this tea will overwhelm our abilities.
There are many, many times I just silence that voice, drink the tea, and am totally fine outwardly. And that's an OK response! It's good, my brain needed that tea, whatever. But also, there's a VOICE! Or a movement, a small, millisecond of an opportunity to notice there's more than just your very bossy mind directing you to do more, be more, think smarter, be more important. There is this intuition that is maybe just all the billions of cells in your body + all the ancient bacteria residing there; the collective energy of that source vibrating at just the right tone to try and get us all to pay attention for one tiny moment, dude. And no matter how we react to the voice, it keeps carrying us -- processing the trauma, burying the toxins, sludging through the crap packaged snacks to eke out a minute amount of nutrition to function.
Intuition + intellect are not two opposing forces. They are interwoven, just as we are within our bodies, within nature, each other. The more I learn, the more I see relationships, threads, tethers, caves and pathways directing us back towards something we already met within ourselves.