Explain Less

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“I feel there are two people inside me -- me and my intuition. If I go against her, she'll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.” 
- Kim Besinger 


The aroma of incense wafted through the air from the caldron-like pit of ashes in the temple courtyard behind us. Above us loomed the temple itself; majestic, its bright red commanding you to acknowledge the statement it made as it contrasted with accents of white and jade green. Dark tiles swept the roof above our heads. Lanterns many times my size adorned the gateway, with statues of animated-looking gods displayed on either side.  

As we climbed the steps, we slowly took it all in. After all, a Japanese temple is nothing like most Americans have ever seen. The smells, the layout, the grandiosity---all new. A nearby area where some locals were standing caught our attention. 

Before long, we realized it was a fortune telling station. For a donation of 100 yen, you were given an enscripted stick at random from a cylindrical container, and could match its enscription to a drawer in a wall containing your fortune.   

Kerrigan didn’t hesitate. 

The fortune said wonderful things. 
She dropped 100 yen into the box. 
There was no problem. 

I reached for the cylinder. The sticks clamored against the tin and each other as I placed my finger over the opening and began to turn it upside down. I felt a stick rest on the tip of my finger and lowered my hand to ease the rest of it out. I wrapped my finger tips around the knob of the fortune-containing drawer --

and pulled it away. 

“Nah. I don’t want to.” 

I couldn't articulate it to you any better now from the café where I sit in Santa Monica. I just didn't want to. 
Identifying what I want and feel has never been the issue. 
Fear of caring too much about what others think, or of coming across as a kill-joy isn't really an issue. 

Feeling the need to explain myself. Not honoring the part of me that knows what I know without always knowing why -- the part that has only ever steered me right when I pay attention to it. That’s when things get tangled. That’s the issue.  

I then painstakingly began rambling off reasons that not only weren’t really reasons, they weren’t mine. Words were stammered as they came to mind. Kerrigan, who was initially accepting of my “nah,” was starting to look at me like I was crazy -- and I started to feel like it.  My reason didn't have a form. But it's lack of form wasn't the problem. The problem was that I insisted on giving it one.  

Maybe the fortune would have been foreboding, and the overthinking meaning-finder in me would have taken it to heart. Maybe I would have ended up running out of cash and needing that last 100 yen. Maybe the jetlag was making me crazy. But had a discomfort I couldn't explain... and that should have been enough 

I don't like that what we can't articulate into quickly formulated, easily relatable terms is relegated to the "hooey" pile. Everyone within earshot---including ourselves---begins to discredit something that is important enough for us to badly want others to understand. I'm realizing that we can do ourselves a big favor by being selective about when we decide they need to. Because even intuition's more explicable cousin, the thought process, is like the artistic expression of paintings: Subjective. Varying in detail, as well as in invested time. I think I most definitely have some Monet’s adorning the hallways of my mind. And I don’t think I’m special; I think we all do. But when we try to force things we can’t explain without appreciating that we shouldn’t need to, what frequently comes out looks more like poorly forged Picasso’s. 

wouldn't have blamed anyone for treating me like I was crazy that day in the temple; I practically extended a written invitation to make me feel judged and misunderstood. Granted, I trusted a feeling enough to follow it. But what I wish for myself, and for anyone reading this, is that we'd respect them enough to see them through. 


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