If there is one thing that’s served me well in my life, it’s following my intuition.
Sometimes it takes me “strange” places. A flight to Tajikistan, with only two contacts in the country and no visa. Dropping out of college six months before I would have graduated with a 3.8 GPA and many awards and accolades. Moving to Portland to live with two sixty-year-old men (one a convicted felon) because I just knew I had to be there by May 1st 2011 and that was the only housing situation I could find.*
Never has my intuition gone wrong.
But there is this funny thing. Sometimes my intuition isn’t wrong, but it isn’t exactly right either.
(There is also the problem of knowing when it is your intuition and when it’s something else. We can talk about that some other time.)
Which brings us to the Matrix
In the movie The Matrix, (slight spoiler) the Oracle told Neo he wasn’t the One.
Now there’s the interpretation that she was telling him the literal truth, he wasn’t the One yet. A good point, but we’re going to ignore it.
I want to look at what Morpheus said:
Neo: And she knows what, everything?
Morpheus: She would say she knows enough.
Neo: And she’s never wrong.
Morpheus: Try not to think of it in terms of right and wrong. She is a guide, Neo. She can help you to find the path.
Another way of putting it is: sometimes your intuition tells you something because it’s what you need to believe to find the correct path.
That doesn’t mean it’s factually true. That doesn’t mean it’ll turn out how you think it will (most times it doesn’t). But in my experience (and you’ll need to experiment for yourself), it always turns out much better than if you didn’t follow your intuition in the first place.
In which I follow my intuition about buying a house
Right now we’re having house drama. We’re trying to buy a house with money from two houses my mother-in-law sold. In order to avoid $30,000 in taxes, we needed to identify the houses we could buy within a certain period of time after her houses closed.
We quickly found the perfect house, but it’s a short sale, meaning that the bank can keep you dangling forever. Nevertheless, we had a cash offer and the short sale was incredibly straightforward, with a preapproved price below what we were offering, and other good signs. So we decided to make an offer and also “identify” as many houses as we could to buy us time for the short sale process. Hoping some of the identified houses would still be on the market if the short sale didn’t go through.
Three months later, the bank has just demanded an extra $30,000 for the house I was so certain would be mine. We don’t have an extra $30,000 and we certainly don’t have the extra time to wait and see if the bank will approve it even if we offer that much, since we’d have to go through the whole three month process again (and three months is about the shortest the process ever is).
My intuition told me it was our house. We walked in and lit up. All our dreams fit so well. We’ve spent months mentally arranging furniture and figuring out just how everything will work.
We also only have 9 houses left on our “identified” list. All the great ones got bought, so they’re kind of the dregs, and all feel woefully inadequate. Not just less exciting than the house we wanted, but barely acceptable as places to live.
Now the story is far from over. We’re going to go look at the nine houses in person and see if any feel right – maybe one is a hidden gem. Our realtor has written up something to try to convince the bank to go with our original price on the original house. But it is far from a guaranteed outcome that we’ll get the beautiful house we love, the one that’s so perfect for us in every way (and which we are so perfect for, since it needs exactly as many repairs as we can give it, and soon.)
Starting first with emotions
There’s a lot going on here. The first place to start, of course, is compassion.
Compassion for the scared parts of me that worry we’ll be homeless. Compassion for the parts that are so frustrated with the size of where we’re living now, a beautiful duplex that is already too small even without a baby or visiting relatives (and sharing an office with my husband is draining.) Compassion for the monsters screaming that I was stupid and wrong for getting my hopes up. Compassion for my frayed nerves after months of waiting for news and still not having a definitive answer one way or another.
And then reorienting
And after compassion, Truth. In all my many experiments, when I follow my intuition, it’s better than if I don’t. It doesn’t always (okay, ever) work out like I think it will. It is not all sunshine and rainbows all the time. And yet it always works out in unexpected and delightful ways.
I am open to finding the unexpected delight. I am open to learning why this had to happen this way: why I needed to take a gamble on this house and why the gamble needed to go so perilously close to wrong (or maybe all wrong. We’ll see.)
Maybe the Oracle told me I wasn’t the One. But if she hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have done the things I needed to do to know I was the One. That’s not my ego’s favorite way for things to go down, but it’s going to work out in the end.
Food for thought.
*The ends to those previous stories?
I got into Tajikistan without a visa. Which is supposedly impossible. The girl I’d met on Facebook waited two hours after everyone else on my flight had left on the off chance I was just held up in customs (I was), then took me to her family’s home. I stayed for a year and it was an incredibly rich and important time in my life.
No matter how the outward success of my life looks after dropping out of college, it was unquestionably the right decision. I am one thousand times more content and don’t regret it for a minute.
AND: I met my husband in Portland on May 13th. Moved in with him in July. Got engaged in September. Started trying to conceive in February. Got married this last June, and our baby’s due next month. (Most of that following intuition as well). It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been healing, beautiful, and absolutely the right thing, every step of the way. And the felon I ended up living with for a few months was a really nice guy.