• Alastar Connor

Intuition, Respect for Right Brain, and a Year of White-Knuckling.

As most of my ponderings usually become concrete while listening to NPR, this time was no different. I was listening to a discussion with psychiatrist Ian McGilchrist, speaking about his new book, The Master and His Emissary, on the way home from visiting a good friend.

This year has been a voyage into the appreciation and value for creativity and intuition. With financial instability, Covid limited adventure and socialization opportunity, loss and grief, and the overall highlighted focus on lack of control and the reality of unpredictability, I have come to see how undervalued creativity is in its role in our mental health, collective healing, and innovation. I have also come to realize the value of intuition that creatives are particularly adept at tuning into.

During a quarantine zoom with a fellow intuitive (@creativespiritma), when I was asked, “What is creativity?” I answered, “Creativity is a way out of suffering.” This is truth. I have also begun to ask myself, “What is intuition?” I answer, “It is seeing the truths that our rational minds are blind to.”

The book being discussed on NPR was about how our society has come to focus more on the left-brained black and white, right and wrong, small focus, immediate need thoughts and has lost sight of the value of the right-brained larger picture, greater meaning, ritual-based, historical, over-arching thoughts and their value of perspective. The right brain is also where intuition comes from.

Also during quarantine, with the help of a friend/life coach (@mollywillcoach), I came to realize that my life views included that creativity and art are beautiful, but not financially valuable. That math and deductive logical reasoning were the only path to financial success. What a disservice I have done to my own creativity and intuition with this faulty worldview. What a disservice to mankind has been done with this societal view.

I have also been thinking a lot lately of the invisible moms white-knuckling it through this past year. Trying to keep income coming in and do a good job at their jobs, covering childcare, caring for the emotional well-being of their families and isolated aging parents, creating entertainment and educational support for children, all while deprived of their support networks, friends, and extended family.

This lack of appreciation for mothering looks a lot like the lack of respect and appreciation for the right side of the brain. Where would the world be and where would the future be without the mothers that carried an extraordinary load this year? Where would it be without their appreciation and respect for creativity and outside-the-box solutions?

I know that men carried extra load this year as well, but there has never been a lack of appreciation for the men of the world. They are certainly financially recognized for their contributions historically and have the written histories to back up the appreciation for their kind.

This unseen work of mothering was highlighted this year like none other. The lack of appreciation for the work of mothering feels an awful lot like the lack of appreciation for the right brain. A societal lack of value for the guiding lights, moral compasses, mental health custodians, bigger picture protectors, sacrificers for the greater good, placeholders for the opportunities of future generations. The mothers of our world white-knuckled it through this past year with grace and aplomb. Invisibly and under-valued.

Over this year, I have also gained an appreciation for the brain, and the unseen. Our brains have guided us through depression, overwhelming unknowns, the grief of loss, and entire re-structuring of life as we knew it. We have been embraced by the beauty of intangible truths reaching out through zooms, phone calls, common humanity, and virtual art installations ( a favorite (lunch doodles with Mo Willems) and worldwide concerts to soothe our weary minds and hearts (The Indigo Girls, Coldplay, John Legend, Andrea Bocelli, Joackopierce, and all the regular folks making music.) I have experienced watching a brain lose its function while the soul endures. Witnessing the anger, agitation, and language loss of the left brain and the love, humor, personality, and understanding of the right brain that rises above a need for language comprehension. I have felt the presence of love in a way that defies logic. I have battled the left brain guilt, overanalysis, and depression of grief to rise above and find illogical joy and the foolhardy bravery to soldier on in the face of knowing that life can hurl an arrow at your heart at any moment, no matter what you do to try to control or protect.

Over and over, I battle my own mind to float above the feeling of pointlessness and defeat. To find meaning beyond “Shit happens. Life sucks.” To reach an altitude where the disappointment of what IS instead of what SHOULD BE looks like inconsequential little ants instead of life-sized people. I reach for the colors, nature’s overwhelming beauty beyond rational understanding, the magical healing power of relationships, the nonsensical value of connection, and open my mind to truths that exist in my intuition, outside the realm of my logical left side of my brain. Trying to blur the focus of my life’s lens to sense the fuzzy peripheral, where the sense of longevity that is bigger than we are and longer than our life span, or that of our children’s life spans, exists.

A new minister I discovered today (@revkarla) through my friend/mentor Morgan (@morgandaycecil), popped up in my feed today. She was speaking of Mysticism and its definition.


[ mis-tuh-siz-uhm ]

  1. a doctrine of an immediate spiritual intuition of truths believed to transcend ordinary understanding, or of a direct, intimate union of the soul with God through contemplation or ecstasy.

  1. belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender.

It’s time to embrace Mysticism. To place value on contemplation, intuition, a larger understanding of context, and creativity. It’s time to see the grey areas between right and wrong, to see the nuances of human beings and their truths. To be united in our humanity in understanding and to believe in the wonders of the unseen that still exist as equally as the concrete visible facts.

My friend that I got together with before hearing this NPR episode is suffering so deeply right now. After not seeing her for an entire year, and speaking only a few times, we sat together on a bench, looking out at the water, and commiserated about how hard it is to see the point when faced with such horrible, and undeserved pain. When good people are thrown under the bus regardless of a life well-lived. How our hearts are torn apart over and over with no end in sight, even with our best efforts and intentions. I felt so bad that I couldn’t reframe our view to make her feel better. I wished I could help more than to only be able to sit with her in her pain, and understand it.

And yet, the amazing truth that is beyond comprehension, was that sitting there with her, feeling sad and hopeless, together, left me with a feeling of hope. From that moment on, my brain has buoyed up, above the despair. Her love and friendship gave me a lifeline. I hope I did the same for her. And THIS, is what we need to appreciate. The unseen. The greater picture. The inexplicable. The conclusion that came from my intuition telling me that I needed to call her, to discover that she was hurting . That I needed to go to her on Mother’s Day, to heal us both. So to all of you that are still white-knuckling it, struggling with your left hemisphere, in a left-brain valuing society, I hope you lean into your creativity, open your mind to allow your intuition to guide you, and find the peace and comfort that is hiding there.

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