There is a reason that one's instinct should be honed. It is a tool that we often ignore in this chaotic world of multiple stimuli. When something lingers in the back of your mind, you should invite it on in and offer it some coffee and pick its mind. Then you can make a pro and con list before you do something or decide something.
But what if you have conflicting instincts?
I do have two conflicting instincts. One tells me to hibernate at home with my forest and my birds and my garden and stay safe. These activities rarely disappoint. They often reward. The other instinct tells me that hibernation means the mind and spirit will become sterile and stale and may just eventually die. Therefore, I am routinely battling with these two noises in my brain.
I fought the instinct to just veg because I do that a LOT of time in my retirement days. I read, I cook experimentally, I play with photography, I garden, I watch TV, I download courses on my laptop, I blog, all of which allows me to remain in my cave and face challenges at a snail's pace.
Master Gardening activities do force me to go to meetings, participate in events and work on projects with others. My family is just near enough that I am called upon to babysit or share an activity with grandchildren who will, all too soon, be young adults themselves. I force myself to offer dinner to friends a few times a year. It is work and I get nervous (odd at my age), but it always ends up being time well spent.
My instinct told me that volunteering with the Adult Basic Education office would be both a challenge and a reward. The reward has been in inspiring people to bring their best to the table. Another reward has been re-learning all that I forgot! The challenge has been in taking the time to prepare lessons and work through the clunky library computer software to schedule a study room and then to find this was all for naught as my students, who have their own challenging adult lives, cancel on the day of the lesson.
I am currently working with a woman from Peru who has passed her high school equivalency but still finds everyday English an effort. She wants to go to community college, but her lack of command of English would hold her back. She also is still saving money for this from her full-time job. One recent afternoon we met for a lesson after she had cancelled the prior week. She had said that her husband had a "cholesterol emergency." She had to take him to the hospital.
Once we had settled in and spread out our work, I asked her how her husband was. Her face fell and she said he was just fine and back home. She looked very tired and claimed she was fighting a cold. I opened the vocabulary book and looked at our lesson and asked her the first question. She fumbled a bit and when I looked up her face had collapsed into pure misery as she tried to hide her weeping. Suddenly the lesson was forgotten as I reached out to hug her and asked what was wrong.
I never expected the "Telanovela" episodes she was going to bring forth. It seems that along with PTSD her husband has a cholesterol problem, yes, but more significantly he has a serious drinking problem and that is what brought him to the hospital. He tells his therapist that he is going to quit drinking and like many with addictions goes home and starts drinking, and as many know, the turn away from alcoholism has to really begin with the alcoholic. When in the Navy he was very physically fit, but now a knee injury and an arm injury have left him far less able to be as active as he would like. He is retired but did some work with a construction company and had a falling out with the boss. I am sure he sees his life as useless. He has lots of excuses.
Well, this is only one of the issues as her concern for his drinking has made him violent and threatening to her. She grew up in an abusive home watching her father abuse her mother, and perhaps without knowing it, she has returned to something familiar here, and she is frightened.
Then there is the Telanovela episode of her not being able to stay in the country if she divorces him. She is about nine months and $1000.00 away from getting permanent residency and the immigration officials are already suspicious that her marriage was one of convenience and not love, and perhaps it was. When one is living in a country filled with crime and poverty and daily dangers an inroad to that golden America is hard to pass up.
If you do not think this story could get any more complicated, she is living with him and his ex-wife! According to my student the ex-wife is very kind to her and helpful...to the point of buying her a car for her to get to work. The ex-wife still works full time at a good paying job for Navy intelligence but has severe arthritis problems and is looking forward to her own retirement. The ex-wife is still on the husband's retirement pension. I know, it is all very strange.
I am certain that a psychotherapist could complete a research paper on all three of these people. I, on the other had, could only recommend she walk on eggs for now, call an abuse hotline and make an appointment with a legal aid lawyer. (I did offer to pay a legal aid fee, if there was one.) I was terrified for her but knew I was in no position to really give advice and knew all these problems were taking their toll on her. For me it was a dangerous and tragic story, and I was not naive enough to think I had the whole story. For her it was her daily life. She works in retail and it reminded me to be ever so nice to those workers as we have no idea what their daily life may be like.
Well, if that does not inspire your week and encourage you to listen to your instincts, I do not know what will.