Collage by Beth Hoeckel.

Dear Rookies,

February’s theme is Intuition, which I’ve never really known how to identify within myself, let alone be guided by, because if you’re good enough at words and debate, you can justify/rationalize/intellectualize/defend anything. Then what’s true or lasting? How do you learn to trust your gut? What’s “intuition” when you’re a hormonal teenaged toddler or dealing with mental health issues or just feel differently about life literally every day?

I have spent years trying to understand the world by writing down not only what happens to me, but drawing connections among the various conversations, quotations, visual omens, songs, etc., that are orbiting me at any given time. Projection can be a wonderful thing—where others see just a smattering of stars, you connect the dots to form an entire constellation. Imagination is essential to a life worth living, and particularly useful to writers and artists. But my cobbled-together clues have often led me away from any sort of discovery, circling back only to those same old things I want to be true, as if saying them enough, while rotating out scraps of evidence, will make them so.

I’ve been trying to get better at determining which clues are meaningful and which ones only click for the sake of convenience, or beauty, or tidy narrative-making. When is symbolism is just in my head, and what of that symbolism is in my head because I’m onto something, and what of that symbolism is in my head just because it seems like a clear connection but is actually an empty indicator of nothing? In an interview from about a year ago, Hilton Als talked about parsing what he needs to jot down versus the thoughts that should just pass through. “I can feel something in my body becoming different from an idea, and when your body becomes different because of an idea then you know it’s a real thing.” But then there’s also this thing my therapist said that I wrote down in my phone and just now found: “When there’s anger or fear, when intuition isn’t just a gut feeling but something deeply emotional, you’re probably bringing one of your own filters and not taking something at face value.” So does the body know or not?! I told her, “I want to be able to trace my outline and his, find the coloring book in our shapes, know where I begin and end and where he begins and ends.” She said, “One of the most impossible things to know is when we have the right intuition about something and when we’re bringing one of our own filters to it.”

So! Will def let you know once I’ve figured out how to live a consistently authentic life and have also identified what is objective reality and what’s a result of the zillion filters in my mind. In the meantime, please send us your own work about these unanswerable questions, and any other non-Intuition-things you’d like to say, at our Submit page.