First Sense

It was getting close to sunset and I made one of those last-minute decisions to grab my camera and try to catch it. I had, in all honesty, thought about it earlier but then kind of dismissed it as I wasn’t in a very good mood.

But the movie had ended on Amazon and staring at the choice of putting something else on or hopping in the car, I chose the latter.

As I drove over to the far side of the lake, my motivations dipped further as I could tell that there was a thick band of cloud hugging the horizon and so in all likelihood, this wasn’t going to be anything special.

When I reached my preferred vantage point, a young couple were walking back out to their car and so I was very much left on my own. Sometimes I have a friend with me, other times strangers and over the months, I have managed to include them in my shots.

But now it was just the sunset and me. And those clouds threatened to make it just me.

Thankfully the sun found a little gap between the clouds and horizon to give one burst of color that lasted a few minutes. And a couple of Osprey added some action to the evening skies that kept me amused.

But it was only right at the end, something told me to look behind me and I got to see the lovely colors with which the sun was spraying the clouds to the east.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little selection and there is one of the osprey ones where I combined eight images to show how they hover and then drop like a stone when they spot a fish below. Those eight shots happened within one second and yes, he got his prey. It is never a good time of day to be a fish.

As I drove home, I parked my annoyance with missing a shot or two that I should have got and began to think about the last shot.

What was it that may me look behind me?

I had no vision of the scene as my eyes were firmly focused on what was happening on the westward horizon.

There was no “tada” sound to celebrate the beauty that caught my attention.

I wasn’t even turning to go home.

But yet I turned.

And in case you are wondering, this particular set of colors lasted only about 20 seconds or so as it softly muted to pink and then grey.

So, the timing of my turn was critical to bearing witness.

Was it a voice on my shoulder? Or a voice within my head? Whichever it was, we commonly refer to such an effect as a sixth sense.

I have an innate reasoning that always listens to mine and I am always baffled when others don’t. I don’t pretend to fully understand what it is, but it is a remarkable tool that I think most creatures on the planet have, to one extent or another.

I suspect it is linked to our “fight or flight” response mechanism that makes us subconsciously aware of something that we aren’t directly witnessing.

Cats have this in abundance and at the slightest suspicion they will jump for no good reason.

But we humans have it too. There are many moments in our lives when things just feel wrong without any good reason. There are other moments when we know we are being watched, again without good reason.

Relying firmly on the first five senses relegates this particular sense to sixth place and more often that not it becomes unused.

Yet I would argue it is more significant than most of the first five, at least in how we deal with win-lose moments that happen to us. Tricksters, con-artists, magicians … they all prey on defeating our first five senses. It is why we end up believing something that isn’t even remotely real.

So, knowing that something is right or wrong, without the confirmation from our other senses can be the difference between success and failure and in some cases, life or death.

Because I am now in the Methuselah age-bracket, I seem to have become a source of advice for some of my very close friends. When I can give the advice based on my own experience, I do. When I can give the advice based on my own intelligence and analysis, I do. But a recurring theme for me, when I am being asked about something I have little direct knowledge or a solid understanding of, I ask them how do they feel about it.

Do they feel good or bad? Does it feel right or wrong? What is their “gut” telling them?

At the end of the day, getting somebody to listen to their gut, is generally a win-win moment. If their gut was right, then the have acted correctly (and therefore won). And if their gut was wrong, they have acted incorrectly and now they can calibrate their gut response. (yet another win)

Humans are social creatures and we have evolved into societies where right or wrong, good or bad is given to us by definition. We teach our young accordingly and tell them to listen to their elders, or do what they are told, and it ends up creating hordes of people that conform to what each society deems is correct.

This is why in the middle east, stoning someone for blasphemy feels right to the hordes. It is why in america militias armed with assault rifles can strut on our streets and scream “all lives matter” as a response to racial injustice. It’s why extermination of jews in the second world war years was acceptable because they are vermin.

In each of these cases, governments have told their children what is right and wrong on a level that supersedes their own sense and created an army of sheepish followers that don’t even ask themselves what their own sense is.

Our gut instinct of right and wrong should be enough to tell us what to do in most of life’s moments. There should be no reason to instruct someone not to stone a christian, shoot a black person, or gas a jew.

Listening to our inner self and accepting its relevance is an essential part of making it through life and experiencing true growth along the way.

There is a lot of evidence for and science behind looking to the west for sunset. But if a voice tells you to turn east, then do. Who knows what you might find.