“Trust your instincts.”
I don’t remember how old I was when my father said these words to me, but it was somewhere between the end of college and the beginning of real adulthood (for me, this was a 10 year gap). I was distraught, the memory of my tight chest holding back my adolescent tears is still incredibly strong. We were in the family room, TV providing background comfort. I sat on the couch, legs curled up beneath me, while he stood, gently pacing the small space. Our familiar positions suddenly were broken when he sat down on the other end of the couch, not too close, but clearly yielding his authority and position and handing over the decision making completely to me.
“Trust your instincts,” he said. “This is your life. It really doesn’t matter what I think.”
I heard the words but I had no idea what to do with them. What did that mean? Did he not care? Was this another parenting ploy I needed to deconstruct? I think that I mumbled some response, hoping to actually be the person that he thought I was in that moment, and the conversation was over. He may have stayed on the couch, sinking into the distraction of the television, or he might have walked out to get a drink or check on some detail of adult life that I still hadn’t encountered, but, either way, I was left alone.
Decades later, I hear the words often. “Trust your instincts” has become the defining force that pulls my parts together. It’s not the gravity that we all depend upon, keeping houses, cars & feet firmly grounded on the earth, but the field that surrounds just me, as if I am the center of my own, little universe. A solitary planet with its own pull, co-creating the concentric circles of orbiting paths for other planets that share my tiny corner of space. It is my mantra, but it is only half of what was said.