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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

Trust Your Gut

I love our neighborhood, but probably not for the usual reasons. #1) Each house has at least an acre of land. That creates distance, which can be good. #2) Everyone tends to keep to themselves. We don’t have a clubhouse or pool or HOA; we rarely know what’s going on in everyone’s lives. ( We sound like a friendly bunch, don’t we?) #3) Because we are in one of the best school districts in Charlotte, not many houses go on the market.

One house did sell fairly recently, and the new owner sent an email to all the houses in the neighborhood saying she was hosting a block party. I kept thinking, Bless her heart; we don’t do that kind of thing here.

We have lived here for 21 years, and our next-door neighbor finally trusts us enough to get her mail when she is out of town. Yesterday she texted that she was expecting three packages, and would I put them on her back porch. I didn’t get home from a meeting until after 8:30, and I decided to check her mail. Even though there is a pretty decent street lamp between our places, I thought about taking my phone to use as a flashlight. Then I decided I didn’t need it, laid it down, and started off. I rethought it, walked all the way back and grabbed it.

I turned on the flashlight feature and saw that her mailbox was indeed stuffed to the gills. I grabbed the packages and started to walk up her driveway when I saw a stick. I stopped suddenly when I realized it was a snake. A snake with markings, very distinct and very unknown to me.

I jumped a few feet into the air and ran home. Let’s assume her packages will not be making it to her porch anytime soon.

I googled snakes in our area and found it was a Timber Rattlesnake. Even as I write this, I keep thinking that I can’t be right, but I remember thinking at the time that he looked like a tan and black argyle sock. I am 100% right, and yet I’m second-guessing myself. Why do we do that with most things?

Even with the incident last night, I doubt myself. Was that instinct or just common sense that made me take the flashlight? Did I really see what I thought I saw? Think of all the times we trust people when they have shown us that they’re not really trust-worthy? How many times do people get married despite all the red flags or gut level feelings that all is not well. The majority of people tend not to trust their instincts, and there is a lot of controversy surrounding this whole concept.

Albert Einstein was a big believer in instinct, so was Coco Chanel. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Blink about instinct and why we follow our instincts or why we don’t. There are tons of articles and books about whether to trust your gut or not. The Harvard Business Review wrote an article about how the stomach is the second brain because it has over 100 million neurons lining the digestive tract (more neurons than are located in the spine). The BBC has an article about why NOT to follow your gut all the time. So, how to decide?

I have never been disappointed when I followed my instincts ( Like taking a flashlight ) so I will always err on the side of trusting them. But if half of the experts tell you to trust your gut and the other half tell you not to, I guess the only way to handle it is to trust your instincts about the decision. Or not. This may just turn into a which came first the chicken or the egg debate.

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