Excellent, well-balanced essay, Jen. This is a question I contemplate often, as I’ve seen some deeply intuitive people start making self-injurious choices based on “signs” they have believed in. My relationship with my own intuition is still a work in progress, and my hesitations about embracing it more fully, frankly, have a lot to do with cautionary examples and tales like those. That said, when I was a Ph.D. student, there was a life-moment where it was almost as if a switch was flipped (figuratively speaking, of course), and my life suddenly filled with uncanny “coincidences.” Many of these coincidences were so far beyond the pale that even some of my demographer friends — all of us being people who devoted their lives to calculating the answer to the question, “What are the chances that this is all just a coincidence?” — began to recognize that some of what I was living looked like more than chance. And I saw sometimes that when someone would try to tell me that a particular “sign” had no meaning, life itself would hurl another one directly at me (or at us) very clearly immediately thereafter, as if to say, “Think again.” One of these number-crunching, skeptic friends at the time even used the word “kismet.”
It’s validating but it’s also challenging in weird ways when concrete reality so frequently corroborates your intuition, particularly when you’re trying to ignore a pattern. It can be hard to continue participating in the collective attitude that all of physical reality is objective and rational, when so many “magical” thoughts do bear out.
Either way, despite the fact that I shy away from my own intuition much of the time, I appreciate the moments of magic. I have immense respect for science, but there is more to life than what science has yet been able to observe, measure, or explain. Thank you for the work that you do to tease apart the different lines of thought on this front, and for sharing your own experience so authentically.