Episode 20 On Intuition and Knowingness

February 15, 2023

Oh, I went to see an amazing play last night with Nathan Lane called ‘Pictures from Home’, It has me really thinking this morning. It’s a play based on a memoir about a photographer who, as he tells it, goes to visit his parents, and discovers a dusty brown box in the garage. It’s covered with mouse trappings and filled with a treasure trove of home movies and family photographs.

The author is himself a photographer, and actually a professor of photography at one of the legendary art schools in San Francisco. Anyway, the play is a beautiful glimpse into a complicated family situation. The relationship between his mother and father, and the photographer documenting his parents’ aging. It’s a commentary on many things, and that’s not what I want to talk about right now . Side note, if you have the opportunity and you’re in New York, don’t miss ‘Pictures from Home’.

One of the themes is the fact that the photographer doesn’t really know what he’s doing. It takes him eight years. They keep referring to it throughout the play as ‘the project’. His father taunts him a lot about being away from his family, his work not being real work, and just this ‘you don’t even know what you’re doing’. In fact, the photographer doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he knows he has something.

At the end of the play – this really isn’t a spoiler at all – he sells the whole project.  It becomes a memoir and a traveling photography exhibit. One of the things I’ve been noodling this morning is that knowingness and what it feels like to have something just beyond your fingertips – just beyond your reach – and how difficult it is to trust that inner knowingness.

It made me think of my mother because when I’m talking about my family one of the stories I tell is about my mother. By way of background, my mother was an incredibly sweet person. She was very pretty. She didn’t have a lot of confidence. She worked with my father all of his life. My father had undiagnosed ADD, so my mother was a major stabilizing factor in his life, and in our lives consequently. But what I want to get to is that my mother rarely got angry. When she did get angry, it scared the bejesus out of all of us, including my father. She didn’t raise her voice very often, but when she did you knew you better get in line. She’d yell ‘don’t give me that baloney. Go to your room.’ But it was rare. And one of the things she would say when she was really frustrated with me is – and she’d get up on my face to say it – ‘Connie, don’t you tell me you don’t know. What does your intuition say?’

 Like I said, it always alarmed us when she was angry, and the point of this story though is that I grew up with intuition being something you trusted. Some things you knew. And knowingness – it was sort of a thing in my family. Or at least it was in my life. It’s funny because my eldest sister Pam who was 11 years older than me used to say ‘what family did you grow up in?’ and we’d howl laughing. It’s because we had such different experiences of our parents. As I’ve said before, when I was growing up my parents were very into their spirituality and the power of the mind and positive thinking. So I guess somewhere in there intuition and inner knowingness became sort of a thing we talked about at home. I was a lucky recipient because I have honed my trust of my instincts. Even when it feels uncomfortable, it’s true. Some things you just know. Even when they can be difficult to admit or scary, which is so often the case, my mother was right….you know!

Sometimes it takes a while to become fully formed, what it is that you know. In the case of the photographer in the play last night, his inner knowingness was that he was on to something. That he was creating something very special. Even though he couldn’t quite put his fingertip on it for a long time, he decided to trust it and to trust himself. He maintained a sense of curiosity and allowed the project to reveal itself. Trusting those little hits of intuition and knowingness that we get can be very difficult. Sometimes we get a ping and squelch it or forget about it, or let’s say we try to forget about it. But trusting our knowingness and intuition is a muscle that needs to be flexed.

I find it very useful to reflect on times in my past when things have worked out because I trusted that knowingness, that intuition. It certainly isn’t easy and it’s often scary, and that’s why for me having a quiet practice has been very helpful. I’m able to see my recurring thoughts. I’m able to connect the dots. And even while it may take me a while, I’m able to face those tough decisions that come up over and over again during the course of a lifetime.

I find it’s just helpful to get curious about that knowingness or that instinct that I have, whether it’s about a job or a relationship, or taking a trip or making a telephone call to someone. You have to listen to your intuition. My mother was right. What does your intuition tell you was her question.

What does your intuition tell? Don’t tell me you don’t know  is what she’d say. Don’t tell me you don’t know because you do.

So, what is it that you need to be paying attention to? What are some of your recurring thoughts, that perhaps you’re not paying enough attention to?  Perhaps they merit more attention. Perhaps they merit curiosity.

I’m going to end it here. That’s all for now. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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