Monday, February 03, 2014

The Well-Tempered Heart

"Intuition can be misleading."
He shook his head. "You should never doubt intuition."
I had to laugh. "Unless you're me. My intuition is not very reliable. It's always letting me down."
"I don't believe it. Intuition is the incorruptible memory of our experiences. We have only to listen closely to what it tells us." With a smile he added: "It does not always speak plainly. Or it tells us things we don't want to hear. That does not make them untrue."

- A Well-Tempered Heart, by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Sometimes it is the most beautiful and valuable things which are the most fragile and easily lost. Intuition could easily be put on the list. In a society that bombards us with data, data, and more data, it is easy to believe that when solving a problem, a stranger on the internet deserves a louder voice than our own.

But somewhere hiding behind all the layers of noise, data, and media that surrounds us, our intuition is there. It is rarely pushy, and may not speak up clearly if we do not allow silence for it to gather its thoughts and reveal itself. But the wisdom it offers is so very needed.

Intuition is not magic - it is, as the quote above describes, the compilation of our experiences. While it may not come with credentials, it has one important edge over all other voices - it is drawing specifically from the applicable experiences of the one to whom it speaks.

Of course, we are our own biggest threats in many cases - our own anxieties, selfishness, and brokenness taint our memories so that painful patterns begin to look like wisdom. Yet, this voice knows us better than we can consciously know ourselves.

When a new mother asks me for advice, I point her to well informed, balanced sources and share my own experiences. But I also remind her that too much input can make us distrust our most valuable adviser - our own sense that something is right or wrong.

Intuition  is a beautiful, powerful tool. Paired together with reason, the two are stronger than either can be on its own.

This post was inspired by the novel A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker.  Feeling lost and burned out, Julia drops her well paying job at a NYC law firm. After hearing a stranger’s voice in her head, she travels to Burma to find the voice’s story and hopefully herself as well. Join From Left to Write on February 4 we discuss A Well-Tempered Heart. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Alicia said...

I love how different people get different things out of the same book! Love what you got out of it and your post. It is so true that at times we do need to go with our gut, with intuition...regardless of the advice of others. As I get older I realize that more and more!

Janin Wise said...

That was one of my absolute favorite quotes from this book. I'm (typically) a big believer in listening to and following our intuitions. (:

Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

It took me a long time for me to trust myself and my intuition enough to listen to it. Love this post!

Martha said...

"It is easy to believe that when solving a problem, a stranger on the internet deserves a louder voice than our own." - this.
Sincerely, this is my favorite FLTW posts in the batch this time around. You hit the nail on the head, we need to quiet the external noise and let our intuition do its job.

Catherine said...

Thanks Ladies!

Kristi said...

Thanks for your reflections, Cath! Speaking of novels about Burma, have you read "the art of hearing heartbeats?" A good and thought-provoking read.

Catherine said...

Kristi, this is the sequel to "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats!"