Is “sensing” becoming the new normal, the regular parlance of our world…perhaps especially amongst women (it is, after all, the natural domain of “the feminine”)? I’m hearing the term used such a lot these days and the reason I tend to notice is that I have always operated this way; its always been front and centre of my life-skills to sense rather than “think into” a situation, but its not always been so easy to talk about it. Not so many moons ago, if you mentioned you “sensed” something rather than knowing it, you would so often be met by raised eyebrows or a roll of the eyes but these days I sense (ha!) more acceptance of the skill and certainly more people are starting to explore it, in broad daylight, without so much cringing as before, which is (in my view) a very good sign.
For some of us, its a known trait due to our particular personality stack (try combining Introverted Intuition with Extroverted Sensing, as per an INFJ…) to be able to sense substantial things in our environment with a kind of sixth sense the same way as others might gather empirical data employing the usual five senses, and its not always fun to live with, either. If your senses have to be “out there” checking for comfort, or danger, in every moment before you can take your next step, because you happen to be wired that way, this can lead to the kind of over stimulation and general exhaustion and overwhelm that I talked about in yesterday’s post Trick of the Light, which can then lead to all types of “crashes” occuring (in my case, a health crash), depending on how early the trait came on board and how overstimulated life has made it. It can also make you seem “irrational”, hesitant or hard to relate to and you have to learn to constantly advocate for yourself when having very strong grounds for why you do or don’t do certain things to a whole host of people who just don’t get your “reasoning”, which can be exhausting and alienating unless you surround yourself (as I have…eventually) with people who respect your sensing abilities.
For me, this tool kit was fully active from day one and I can clearly recall using the parlance of sensing all the time to my bewildered parents and some (not all…thankfully my sister “gets it”) of my siblings. For instance, I would frequently declare that this thing/place/person “feels funny” and I don’t like being near it or want to proceed, etc. When this is met with constant annoyance, disbelief and even censure, you can start to shove the trait deep underground, but it doesnt go away. You know you live by its information, come what may, and nothing will ever iron that out of you, however much people may want you to conform to “normal” benchmarks of decision-making.
Yet as you mature the trait, it becomes a gift and even a super-power, especially once you are an adult and thus a free agent to make your own choices. Used to navigate the right restaurant to eat in, when to hurry out of a dark alleyway, or a road junction right before the crash unfolds, or “just knowing” you’ve met your lifelong partner on first brief encounter, and when you’re quite confident you’ve found your new home of the next twenty years though you’ve only just put one foot over the threshold, it is that superpower and no mistaking. I’ve done all those things and more, beautifully navigated via my sensing skillset. Once, I changed the date of a ticket on a European train to the same time but in a different week, on what felt like a last-moment whim (though I really felt the strong compunction to make the change) only for that original train to be subjected to a terrorist attack, and that’s just one example of many. I’ve had more near-misses than I can count over the course of my life but what I mainly focus on by choice is that I narrowly, gratefully, avoided whatever it was and made some great if unaccountable decisions, and am still here to tell the tale.
So it struck me as interesting to discover last night that my artwork The Yellow Window has been used to accompany an article in Vogue (I’m terribly thrilled about that, by the way) featuring author Elizabeth Day, who talks about how she decided not to purchase a “perfect” house that didn’t feel right in various subtle ways, and for very good reason as it turned out. This sudden awakening to how important having a sixth sense can be, and how strongly she sensed the subtle clues not to proceed with the original purchase, inspired the “chilling” plotline of her latest novel “Magpie”.
Paradoxical really, as the painting in question is one I associate with extremely good and light, positive feelings and, in my opinion, the reason its been my most successful artwork to date is that its tanked full of all the good vibes that I painted into it. Just as real as any of its yellow-hued pigment on canvas, those good feelings were literally overspilling out of me onto the canvas like a kind of energetic “paint” of their own as I recalled all the wonderful feelings I had about that room, the gorgeous view, the much-loved people with me at the time (it was from a memory of the morning of my neice’s wedding and she and both bridesmaids, including my young daughter, were getting ready in the room behind me as I gazed out of the window at that golden view). In essence, I had bottled the positive feeling and enscapsulated it onto the canvas, into the artwork for posterity, so that (hopefully) when people look at it they sense the very same frequencies of golden light, love, gratitude and radiant, uplifting beauty coming at them as part of the overal effect.
In fact, this is a topic I suddenly recall writing about once before (back in 2014, in a post entitled Windows of Insight) when a stroke of synchronicities led to the sale of the original painting to a couple who had been trying so hard to track it down for two years since first spotting it hanging in a one-week exhibition during an art festival. It had left such a strong impression on them that they had employed a commercial gallery to try and track it down but were only ever offered substitutes to try out on their wall, none of which they kept, so they were overjoyed to finally find me. Until then, it had worked its magic hanging on the central wall of my house (right in “its heart”, you could say) where the very curl of the stairs begins, so that we were all forced to walk past it a zillion times a day and I really liked sensing it there. So, at first, I was so reluctant to part with it but then and I very-much felt like it had worked its charm for me, nudging me to realise important things about myself and my health-journey, and was now ready to go and hang on somebody else’s wall, especially as that someone was so attached to it, in fact I could sense it had found the perfect home to go to (I always like to sense when, and to whom, my paintings fly). Meanwhile, its become one of my most successful prints and commercial images, and now this. Mainly, I just like to think of it getting out there to be seen, hopefully spreading good vibes.
So, really, its far from inappropriate that it should find itself attached to an article about sensing when not to hang around in a particular place…not at all….because the whole point of sensing is to be able to discern when to go ahead, and when not to; there is always a yang to the yin, as a law of the universe. Sometimes you just have to get “the chills” in order to know which way to go because those hairs standing up on end tell us things, both positive and less so. In fact, the whole balance of the Yellow Window painting depends on shadow and light; you can’t have the one without the other and it only “works” as a composition because there are both, highlighting the radiance of the view. As I’ve discovered in my own life, for every set of uncomfortable feelings, there are an equal number of comfortable ones to be found…if we but allow ourselves to be more discerning, using our innate skills, which so often go deeper and can be trusted so much more than a lot of the information that comes in at us, bamboozling us, from “outside” of ourselves these days. There is just so much informational “noise” out there and we desperately need to learn how to lean into ourselves, and trust ourselves, far more than we have been entrained to do by a world that leans so heavily on “proof”.
So, in an era when things “not being quite what they seem” is so rife in our world, we really, really need to bring this skillset onboard, and then some. Interpreting those inexplicable “off” feelings we sometimes pick up on, as well as noticing (and relishing!) all the most positive ones, is something we need to get a whole lot better at, or at least we need to cease ignoring them just because they’re “not rational” (as is explored in the article) because they so-often hold substance and our felt senses know much more than our minds, a great deal of the time. And if we really are on the verge of a “sensing revolution”, and if popular literature exploring the theme is going to help bring that to people’s attention some more, then I can see why this particular painting would want to be there; it all feels pretty joined up to me!
You can view The Yellow Window on my website www.helenwhite.org (for print options contract me).