Creative people find meaning in unexpected places. We look at situations, interactions and objects and pull ideas from them. We infuse them with symbolism and metaphor and we find ways to express exactly what we want to say. We write novels, make jewelry and pottery and come up with a new way to market a product that’s been around for 30 years.
We also create drama, invent worst-case scenarios and look at the seemingly mundane to find a sign that we decide to chart a course by. We receive flowers that die two days later and we are convinced it’s a sign that the relationship is over. We read diagnoses on WebMD and when we get to the line “or there may be no symptoms at all” and are convinced it’s a sign that we have this particular killer disease and have hours to live. One of our friends meets with great success in a similar endeavor we pursue and know it means it’s time for us to give up.
Except that it’s not a sign.
Don’t get me wrong- I believe in serendipity. I believe in convergence and the Universe conspiring in my favor. I also believe in the phrase, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
It can be hard to differentiate between laying meaning on top of something and experiencing something meaningful. I find the most useful tool for telling the difference is tapping into my intuition. First I focus on my breathing; I calm myself down and still the noise racing around in my head. If and only if I can achieve this do I look at the situation again. If I can’t, I come back to it later when I can. Intuition does not respond well to chaos and noise. Then I think about the situation and I ask myself, “Does this feel true? Is there anything else to support my reaction?” Intuition lies in your body- different people feel it different places. I know what my intuition feels like so in the silence, I wait for the response. It always comes. If I still believe I have experienced something I should pay attention to, then I make a plan accordingly. If my intuition tells me I’m making a good deal of something out of nothing, I find a new way to look at the situation; one that sits well inside me.
In my High School AP English class, we worked hard one week on a difficult timed essay dissecting a poem about a sow and her piglets. Theories abounded about the symbolism of the sow- she was the author as mother, she represented Mother Earth, she represented all that was wrong with society. When the papers were handed back, our teacher sighed and announced that we were all clearly stressed out – we were creating symbolism where there was none. We were over-thinking and making too much out of the whole exercise. She sat on the front of her desk and said simply, “Sometimes a pig is just a pig.” She then changed her lesson plan so that the rest of the week we spent our time reading Louis L’Amour novels to give our over-stretched creative minds a break. Louis L’Amour wrote 89 novels and they all went like this: the good guy wore white, the bad guy wore black and in the end, the good guy rode off with the girl into the sunset. No symbolism, no hidden meaning.
Sometimes a pig is just a pig. And that’s okay. There doesn’t have to be meaning in the events that surround us. Sometimes, we are just meant to live in the moment and move forward to the next one. Find your moments today and just live.