“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.” ~Steve Jobs
Every July, David and I drive to Cincinnati for lunch on the levee in Newport and a Reds game at Great American Ballpark with our friends Erin and Justin. Last Saturday was in the 90’s with a heat index of over 100 degrees. Walking to the table at the restaurant, Justin’s eyes rolled back in his head. He fainted, hitting his face on a table on the way down.
We rushed to help. We checked his pulse (erratic), felt his skin (ice cold, but sweating profusely) and asked him if he knew where he was (his answer was indecipherable). David and I exchanged an uneasy glance, knowing just enough to realize we needed help quickly. David called for help while I asked for cold towels and kept reminding Erin to take deep breaths.
The EMTs arrived and took his blood pressure, which was dangerously low. He was transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital for tests and two bags of fluid. Diagnosed with severe dehydration, they got his blood pressure under control, his fluids levels up, his heart rate stabilized. A few hours later, he was exhausted but fine, lucky to be walking out with only a chipped tooth, a busted lip and a bruised ego. Dehydration doesn’t happen all at once, but cumulatively over many days. On the drive home, we talked about how lucky Juston had been, how it could have been so much worse, shuddered as we imagined him passing out while driving, his toddler buckled in the back seat, the car crashing and rolling. Our retelling of the day’s story was a totem, a verbal sign of the cross as protection against what might have been.
Looking back, it is easy to connect the dots. We are co-creators with the universe; the universe speaks to us through our intuition. To say it another way, when God wants our attention, he taps us on the shoulder. If we ignore him long enough, he breaks our arm. Justin had had a few dizzy spells that he attributed to long runs in the heat. He had been waking at night, sweaty and overly hot. Erin and Justin were involved in a long-running marital spat where she chides him for not drinking enough water and he replies he’ll do better, but then doesn’t actually drink any more water. Dot, dot, dot. Any long-time marriage has these spats, repeated so often that they lose their power and never change anything. They don’t really seem to matter in the big scheme of things. Until they do, hindsight being 20/20 and all that. Passing out was a cosmic wink, a wake-up call from the universe.
Why do so many of us ignore the whisper to take better care of ourselves? Why are we so hesitant to trust the synchronicity of existence, to believe our gut’s murmurings, to have faith that the dots are leading us in the right direction? We hear the universe knocking, but our rational mind talks us out of answering the door. So we squander our health, our sanity, our balance. We live our lives controlled by outcomes and planning and miss the divine dots that are stepping stones on our journey. As Albert Einstein wrote, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
And a true gift our intuition is. We’ve all had those moments of clarity where we are perfectly in flow, where it all unfolds effortlessly, we feel energetically supported, the dots align. How can we cultivate more of those moments? It starts with attuning our awareness to the whispers that guide us by checking in with our gut, our breath, the endless tickertape of thoughts running through our mind. When we are mindful and attentive, we more easily see or hear the sacred signs. God had been whispering in Justin’s ear for a while to practice better self-care; he just wasn’t listening. His life had been, of late, busy and stressed, led by momentum and caffeine instead of the still, small voice of his inner knowing. That sort of trajectory was bound to fail. Justin was granted a reprieve, a cosmic reminder that his body is a temple that cannot be defiled.
May all of our cosmic phone calls be so full of grace. And may each of us learn to trust our inner knowing more to hear the whispering of God.