When I think of instinct, I think about how people don’t rely on theirs enough. Think about how much sensory data we absorb in a day, or a week, or a year— far too much for our feeble, impressionable conscious minds to decipher. But our brain still tucks away all the bits and bobs of information, filters out the truly irrelevant while looking for patterns, and then regurgitates them back to us in the form of instinct or “intuition”. But with so many daily, persistent distractions we seem to listen to our instincts less and less.
This doesn’t seem like a good idea. Instinct is an evolutionary and necessary skill in the same way that common sense is. Without them, we’d be walking into traffic, falling off cliffs, dating psychopaths, and sending all our money to Nigeria. Is it just me, or does it seem like people are doing exactly those types of things more and more?
When we ignore a random comment from a new acquaintance, our instinct does not. Our instinct notices a light switch that suddenly doesn’t work. A creak in a floorboard… when there aren’t any floorboards. A stranger who is too kind. When a child says, “I’m fine” our idiot conscious mind says, oh great! Our instinct analyses differences in posture, expression, voice, and circumstance and says, something is wrong! While we consciously rationalize and deny, our instinct notices and alerts, all with the goal of informing us and protecting us from harm.
It takes only seconds to stop and listen to that little niggling feeling. Facebook can wait for a few seconds, can’t it? It is far better to face an unpleasant thought or inconvenience immediately than allow it to gather mass like a snowball until it smothers us.
On that light note, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, loosely connected to the day’s prompt, instinct, by way of animal instinct, featuring humans, tigers, kitty cats, and a dog.