We were living in our first home; a bi-level, stucco, three-bedroom, two-bath place, with a yard for our dogs. A great home, I look back on it with fond memories; it’s where A. was born, and where we almost died. In the first few weeks of living in our new home, on one of my many box-in-hand trips to the basement, I thought I smelled a gas leak in the furnace room. I internally panicked, not only because of the potential leak, but because we had just moved in, I was waiting for something horrible to happen to the “place” where we invested our financial future, and R. and I were proud of our first home. In an effort to see if it was “just me” or gas, I went downstairs every half hour, shutting the door to trap the gas or leaving it open to see if the smell would come up the stairwell. My games didn’t provide an answer. Did I call the gas company? No, I went downstairs and lit my Bic. Yes, probably the most ridiculous thing I could have done, and thankfully, I did not blow us up. Because when I finally called the gas company, after R. told me how “different” that stunt was, it turned out that there was a small leak. It was patched, and I had swerve-to-miss-a-deer jitters for a few hours.

Our sense of smell warns us of what is to come. We smell smoke miles from a fire, cotton candy blocks from the machine, Grandpa before he gets out of the car, and, my favorite, the rain before it falls. The smell of fresh rain on steamy asphalt is a pretty excellent one as well.

It is one thing to be aware of impending doom or delight, but it’s how we respond to our senses that can change our future. Walk towards the smoke smell and you could save someone’s life, turn left a block from the cotton candy and avoid the sugar-high before dinner, you have to deal with Grandpa’s smell, and sit back while the rain falls, hopefully hail doesn’t follow.

One of A.’s first pictures.

At times, we make instinctual decisions about our future based off of what we sense, but from time-to-time we need to mull over a decision, and we need people’s advice , and many times, when asking for advice, I am told to “trust your gut” or “go with your instincts”. Not sure about you, but my instincts can be pretty wicked (see the above story), I ask for advice, because I want advice. Do we end our conversations with these statements because we are afraid of pointing someone in the wrong direction? Are we afraid of being responsible if they take our advice and fail? Are we content to leave it up to someone’s “feelings”, then, if things go horribly wrong, we can “be there” for them and say, “Everything happens for a reason”. I’m not sure that I like that, I do it, well, trying to work on saying “I did it”.

My Papa Sense tells me:

Could you imagine if we said those phrases to our kids? “Dad, not sure if I should go potty before or after we go to the library.” Dad scratches his chin “Awe, just trust your gut” Now, in this case, it may apply, but no, we tell the child to go potty now. Or “Dad I really want to go to school tomorrow and hit Billy with a baseball bat.” Dad turns the screwdriver to secure the batteries in a furry lamp and says “Son, trust your instincts.”

No, of course not, and I understand that children need guidance and adults need to be able to make, and trust, their own decisions. There are times our ‘guts’ serve us well, but other times when we need to be shoved in a direction. I also need to give, and learn to ask for, advice, I’m sure my Dad would have advised against my ‘Bic’ instinct.