There are certain moments in life that awaken you to the truth about time. Sitting in a hospital waiting room is one of them. No matter how routine the procedure or how experienced the doctors are, it’s in those seconds which suddenly stretch into hours, that you realize how delicate this thing called life is and how easily we assume that we’ll have all the time to figure it out.
Those moments do a lot of things. They give you a new appreciation for your loved ones, a deep gratitude for every positive outcome and they offer a fresh reminder that life is so very short. And if you’re like me, they can also fill you with an uneasy feeling that time is running out. As though you have to rush to get things done, to experience things, to express things… just in case.
Those minutes can make you want to crawl out of yourself and into the future to chase down your dreams and reposition them into this new heightened reality that you find yourself in. In those few days, I felt like I suddenly needed to say everything I had to say to the people that needed to hear it, not later, but now.
So much of life is about timing. Being at the right place at the right time or deciding whether it’s time to take the next step. Timing changes everything. But I have learned that while there are times when the premise “Life is short” should give you every reason to say or do exactly what’s in your heart, there are other circumstances when the wait is much more important. Deciding which moments fall into which category is one of the puzzles I’m still working out. After all, no one wants to live with any regrets.
But here’s what I know: Time heals. Time teaches patience. Time tempers wisdom and understanding like few forces in nature can. And then, when you’ve understood the importance of all these things and you’re ok with giving it time, it can set you up to experience moments of such profound clarity that there is no doubt in your mind that you are exactly where you need to be. You can’t achieve that if you act on very impulse you have.
If outcomes are rushed, what confidence can you have that the result, that particular beginning/ending was meant for you? I guess that’s the thing about growing up. You start to appreciate the relationships and circumstances that you have allowed time to refine. And you also learn when to seize the moment when there are important words that cannot be left unsaid or deeds that can’t go undone. It’s a fine balance between the two, but it ultimately boils down to the faith you have in life and in yourself. Let that faith guide your choices and know that time is on your side.
“Buying books is immensely comforting. Maybe I won’t read them immediately, but they make me feel so much better whenever I’m sad and blue. Just their presence, it’s like having more to look forward to.”
It’s that pit in your stomach saying something is amiss. Other times it’s the calm confidence of knowing you’re headed down the right path. Whether you listen to it or not, intuition is your heart and mind joining forces to fight for your protection, and at times, for your very survival.
But what matters infinitely more than having a strong sense of intuition is the ability to follow it. That’s where I seem to run into issues. It’s every optimists’ dilemma.
Ever since I can remember, my intuition has been on point. I can sense the emotions in a room before people speak. Red flags go off without fail when I’m being told a lie instead of the truth. To this day, there are only a handful of situations that unraveled in a way I didn’t see coming.
In many of these situations though, what follows after I hear that voice is usually me telling myself to stop overreacting. To relax, remain optimistic and expect only the best out of people.
It’s what we optimists do to ourselves. In high stakes situations, we dismiss our natural instincts and hope that the next sign will be from “out there,” instead of from within, and that it will prove us wrong. Optimists are more relieved to be wrong about themselves than to be wrong about others.
The choice to dismiss our natural instinct happens so fast it’s barely perceptible. But it’s still as real and powerful as any other life changing decision we make.
So where does this come from? This preference to cling blindly to hope while denying our strongest ally –- ourselves?
Personally, I have always seen my optimism and my intuition at odds with each other. One is full of wild faith in the people, places and situations in my life. The other tells it like it is and is strongly rooted in truth and reality. As of late, optimism has always won that battle. I think it’s because following my intuition would mean acknowledging that life is messy, that the world contains as much evil as it does good and that friends can cause more pain than enemies.
What I’m starting to learn though, is that gut instinct and genuine positivity aren’t divergent paths. Actually, they should be viewed more as a succession of self-saving habits. You have to know yourself first, then follow your intuition. Afterwards is when all that optimism is needed. I believe that’s when optimism is most informed, most potent.
It’s scary to rely that much on intuition, but it becomes easier when you realize that the world rewards those who 1) seek the truth and 2) know how to handle it when it comes their way. When the truth disappoints you, a big part of how to “handle it” is to refuse to allow it to dull your optimism. If you can do that, you’ve already won.
The bottom line is that there’s enough manipulation and deception in the world, that the worst thing you can do is add to that by betraying yourself. The best solution is to trust yourself and never underestimate how far following your intuition and staying optimistic about the outcome will take you!
Nothing Fails, from American Life, by far Madonna’s most underrated album.