Embrace intuition to stay safe, not sorry

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t read horoscopes, bad-mouths palm reading and makes fun of people who believe in ghosts. Staunchly pragmatic, I rarely believe anything I can’t see with my own eyes.

Which makes my cautious but nevertheless present belief in what could most simply be called “intuition” a little bit ironic.

Mothers say they have it. Twins say they have it. Religious fanatics say they have it. Clairvoyance, ESP, a gut feeling — whatever “it” is, I’m not sure. But I’m starting to realize it’s something that can’t be ignored.

Last week, 20-year-old Notre Dame University student Declan Sullivan fell to his death filming a football team practice when the video tower he stood on was blown over by gusty winds. Perhaps the most disturbing part of Sullivan’s accident was that he knew it was a definite possibility. Just before filming the practice, he posted on his Twitter, “Gusts of wind up to 60mph today will be fun at work… guess I’ve lived long enough.”

The fact that Sullivan knew there was an evident danger and chose to do nothing is what makes the event even more tragic — that kind of fear is a clear indication that something is not right.

I had my own “gut feeling” moment a few months ago, on a sweaty 95-degree night in Washington D.C. I was stuck inside studying for a philosophy exam for my class at Georgetown University. It had been a long day at my internship and I was exhausted, but I was determined to stay at the library until it closed and mentally straighten out Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.” I finally settled in with my pile of books (and obligatory study snacks) and got to work.

It had only been about 20 minutes in the dead silence of the library when I distractedly looked around at the other library patrons (all three of them.) I noticed that one, a middle-aged man sitting a few tables away from me, had nothing in front of him on the table. He was fidgeting awkwardly in his seat, looking at me and the other students with what could only be called a worried look on his face. He was playing with something inside his coat (remember, it’s 95 degrees — weird.) The clock told me I hadn’t been there long, and I knew I’d get nothing done in my apartment with my chatty roommates and the proximity to my computer. But I just didn’t feel right. What was this man doing there, and why did I feel so uncomfortable?

I quickly gathered my things and got the heck out of there.

I probably had nothing to worry about that night in the library. But when you have such a strong feeling that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. I found a good definition of intuition on a website called “Think Like a Black Belt” (ignore the part about the “inner warrior.”) The author of a blog on the site, Lori Hoeck, wrote that, “Intuition is a powerful tool of the Inner Warrior because it skips past normal logic as the subconscious mind connects the dots and arrives at a conclusion long before the conscious mind is even aware.”

In English, I’d say that means that the human body can sense things far before we can reason them out logically. If you’re walking home alone or in an empty stairwell or in relative isolation at the library and you’re feeling uncomfortable, do something about it. You can’t spend your life believing that everything that could go wrong will, but these signals are there for a reason. Better overly cautious and safe than sorry.

Megan is a junior in Media.