I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my first child, when the time comes, will be a boy.
There is no rational basis for this knowledge.
At this point in time I do not even have a significant other, and probably will not for a long while to come, let alone a baby growing in my womb. In fact, if you asked me how exactly I knew this, with a step-by-step explanation of my thought process, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything beyond simply “I just know.” Something in me – my heart, my soul, whatever you want to call it – has somehow peeled away the veils obscuring the future, and taken a peek, and come back to report what it has seen to me, on an unconscious level.
Life, for many people, is full of these strange hunches – and I find them absolutely fascinating. A father living on the other side of the world wakes up with a sense of premonition, only to find out later his daughter died in a car-crash at that very moment. While taking her usual route home, a woman, spurred by some internal compass needle flickering in a different direction, turns down a different network of footpaths, and discovers on the News the next morning another woman was murdered on that very street. A scientist, searching for answers, has a sudden powerful urge to step inside a cafe he has never been to before, whose menu provides the missing link to his theory.
They are what I like to call moments of “knowing without knowing”. To encounter them is to almost feel aligned with the Divine. They feel magical. They push against the boundaries of reality. Science drills into us that the world is just a mass of soulless atoms and molecules, vibrating at different frequencies, but when you “know without knowing”, you can’t but feel there is more to existence than meets the eye. At such moments it is impossible not to feel a strange sense of exultation at the mystery of what it means to be alive.
Of course, I could be wrong. Just because I favor the heart over the mind when it comes to “sensing” life doesn’t mean the heart is infallible. Who knows, perhaps somewhere down the line I’ll end up giving birth to a girl – or not give birth to anyone, and die childless. But those outcomes feel unlikely, they just feel wrong, slightly out of alignment, like a tilted frame hanging on the wall.
For those of you who extoll the intellect and scoff at intuition, such claims must seem laughable. Delusional, even. Yet throughout history, and with each day that passes on this planet, others in the world have experienced the same thing – not to mention that this is not the first time something of this sort has happened. Intuition, unlike intellect, does not discriminate. It picks up on everything and anything, whenever and however it wants.
Take Art, for instance. J.K Rowling, renowned author of the Harry Potter book series, was on a train in England one evening when the idea for her books just “fell into her head”. The intellect, analyzing this statement, can only shake its head. Fell into your head? Did it, now? You don’t say? Ideas are formed when disparate concepts merge to create something new. The lady simply mashed two things together: witches and wizards, and boarding schools. Nothing magical or divine to it.
But as a writer and someone who has often experienced ideas “falling” into her head, I must disagree, and my sentiment has been echoed by many other creators. All of my stories start with an image that, well, appears in my head out of seemingly nowhere. Often I can see them so clearly, and they feel so real, and seem so real, as if the story and its world and characters already exist, perhaps in some other realm, and all I need to do is pay close attention and write down everything I see. Yes, you can put forward the argument that it’s just my subconscious, brewing together disparate elements into new and interesting combinations – but there is something more to it. Something real, something true, at the level of the soul. It is too vivid and powerful not to be.
I could go on about this for days. I could tell you of the odd incidents in history when different scientists in different parts of the world stumbled across the same theories at the same time, or anecdotes where people used their Sixth Sense to accomplish wonders. Stories of the oddest coincidences. However, ultimately, what it all boils down to is that there is more to life than we know, and more to us than we know. God, the Cosmic Energy of the Universe, the Grand Mystery of Everything. It doesn’t matter what you call it. No matter how intellectual you are, on some level, each of us, if we are honest with ourselves, are aware of something greater than ourselves at play in this business of living. Hunches are just one expression of this Great Unknown.
And I love it. I love it because it makes life more interesting and exciting. After all, is it not better to wake up everyday and see the world and life as magical, full of surprises and secrets, than something dull and mundane? As a certain scientist once said, we have the choice, to either see everything, or nothing, as a miracle – and I am firmly in the former camp.
What about you? What have been your experiences of “knowing without knowing”?