There are things that we think we know, of which we remain ignorant. There are things that we actually do know, of which we believe ourselves to be ignorant. This conundrum arises due to a multitude of factors: imperfect information, uncalibrated confidence, the apparent shakiness of objective truth, among others. But a chief reason for this dissonance is the frequent disconnect between what our heads tell us and what we feel in our hearts. It is a war as old as humanity, with each combatant winning battles, but no clear victor. So shall it be until the end of time.
Blessed are the moments when our heads and our hearts speak the same language. They may have different accents, but when their messages overlap, our burdens are eased. And still, that is no guarantee of success. Indeed, when both poles of our orb tell us the same thing, we run the risk of confirmation bias. Reinforced by the false security of an infinite internal feedback loop, we jump headlong into a dangerous abyss. We may well do better when there is an internal conflict that forces us into introspection, into an evaluation of the disparate advice rendered by the intellect and the soul.
Of course, thinking is important. But, rational examination of a given situation will not necessarily lead you to the correct result. Instinct plays a critical role in my life, has informed all of my most important decisions. Whereas a spreadsheet could have steered me onto certain paths, bolstered as it may be by the patina of objectivity, I am innately suspicious of such clear answers. I prefer the opacity and adventure of following my first impression, of divining direction from the nebulous whisperings of my psyche. Because it is impossible to fully control the course of one’s life, there is utility in being loose enough to surrender partially to the flow, to connect with the energies that guide my existence.
Yet the fates are fickle, as are our hearts. Emotion can torrent at a rate that threatens to flood the sense straight out of our brains. Nostalgia may trap us in situations from which our minds scream at us to escape. Infatuation may distract us from glaring flaws that would be obvious if our neurons were not swimming in the viscous sea of puppy love. The steam of our rage can obscure the beauty which stands before us. Because these states of being are often fleeting, they can be precarious bedrock upon which to build a stable structure. It takes experience and discipline to separate temporary insanity from an expression of one’s core principles.
Being inherently dichotomous beings, we are constantly subject to the see-saw between the head and the heart. Reconciling these competing inputs is a tricky business and the central work of our messy, imperfect lives. We will overthink and fail, we will underthink and emerge unscathed, tempting us to repeat the process. And so we will, and the results will be reversed. There is no great answer, there is no escaping our mistakes, there is no hiding from our triumphs. There just is.