The Blog

On Intuition, Mick Jagger and Epitaphs

"How will you know?" she asked. He looked at her and smiled. He had a way of taking her prisoner with those direct, frank, blazing blue eyes, making it impossible to look away. "Oh, I dunno," he replied, "intuition, I guess."

Intuition, reason's poor cousin

"How will you know?" she asked. He looked at her and smiled. He had a way of taking her prisoner with those direct, frank, blazing blue eyes, making it impossible to look away. "Oh, I dunno," he replied, "intuition, I guess."

In Latin there is a proverb that sums up instinct versus reason: Utatur motu anumi, qui uti ratione non potest. Let him make use of instinct who cannot make use of reason. I do disagree with the inference that if one is seemingly incapable of using one's brain, one should resort to following one's instinct. Instinct is after all more reliable in 99% of life's experiences. I would even argue that human beings evolved because of their intuition. Picture neanderthals frenetically rationalising their every move while keeping warm, gathering food and procreating were more vital to their survival.

As humans perfected language, their new pursuits became more refined: arts, literature and the study of thought. Mathematics, geometry are the precursors of rationalism. The art of thinking became inextricably linked to logic. One seemingly became incapable of thinking without analysing an idea or a thought to death. Instinct therefore began to take second place. In our materialisitc, supermarket culture we have forced the ego straight to the fore and instinct has been relegated far down the pecking order. It now is situated between the old wives' tales and hocus pocus fortune telling.

Sometimes our intuition is screaming at us and we should heed it. Here's an example: A good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer exactly three years ago. The doctors wanted to operate, they told her if she didn't, well, to expect the worst etc. She defied the doctors and embarked on a raw diet, juiced vegetables and coffee enemas. Three years later, she's not cured but she's still alive and able to function. Looking at her zipping around in her car and going for long walks, you would never think that she had been handed a 'death sentence'. But to this day she is convinced she did the right thing and made the choice that was best for her. She didn't want her body violated by drugs and surgery. Intuitively she knew that if she tried a more natural route that maybe, just maybe....and she's still with us (and looking pretty fine, actually).

In everyday life we are ensnared by rationalising and reasoning rather than giving in and surrendering. The sage preaches detachment because ultimately logic will only get you so far in the journey of life. For example, when we cease to apply logic to our thoughts we give in to a sort of intuitive euphoria this is best described as how we feel when we fall in love: goofy, perpetually smiling, seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses and... ignoring all reason completely. The act of falling in love is completely irrational.

As a single woman I am particularly vulnerable to attractive men wanting to go out with me- hear this, hear this, they are not breaking down the door! But I have learned from experience what men are really like so I trust my instinct every time. Here's the thing, ladies, when a man tells you he really, really, really likes you and will never meet anyone like you and you're just so outstanding and exceptional, well, he's lying. I have found myself in all manner of hot water with the opposite sex for trying to convince myself that he's actually telling the truth. No, no, no: men tell versions of the truth to get what they want. And by 'versions of the truth' I mean, lies. There's something about that first encounter when you just know if he is genuine or not. Listen to that whisper inside your head- it could save you a lot of grief (not to mention time wasted expecting him to be something he's clearly not).

And finally, our 21st century problems may even stem from from ignoring our instinct and at our own peril. Consider this: obesity and a greed for food is not an instinctive problem but rather one that is rational- the idea of overconsuming food is a processed thought NOT an intuitive one.

From the moment human beings were given free will they have adroitly convinced themselves of most things. We think what we want, we believe what we choose. Take it from me, in the second half of my life and as I look backwards, I see very clearly that had I followed my nose..... Hindsight, don't you just love it?

Detail, "I think I love you", Oil on canvas, Photo and painting copyright S. van Dalen

Mick Jagger

Has been getting a lot of flack for having a torrid affair with someone years younger than him and so soon after the death of his long term partner. Mick is just being Mick- flawed like the rest of us. Don't expect him to behave like God when he's only being himself i.e. an ageing rock star with a libido.


And finally, what would you put on your tombstone? Epitaphs sum up a life in a few short words. These are some of my favourite quotes which would seem apt as the parting words, as it were, of the departed (the last one was voted everyone's favourite in the UK):

Consider it a great task to always be the same man.- Seneca

Do what you want. - Rabelais

Time is a certain part of eternity.- Cicero

There are no fans in hell.- Oriental proverb.

I told you I was ill.- Spike Milligan.

Photo copyright S. van Dalen