Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: Your natural instinct


He looks up from page one of his Wall Street Journal, takes a small sip of his house blend coffee and peers over the brim of the mug. With each sip he takes and each sentence he reads, he glances over in my direction, and I do the same.

When we catch each other's stare and exchange an inviting smile, part of me is slightly embarrassed, slightly nervous and slightly flattered.

A smile from a stranger can give you these feelings all at once.

I am not sure if he is here because he likes the warm atmosphere of this coffee shop or if I have interrupted his morning tradition. But, I don't think he minds, and neither do I because it is little moments such as these that give you "the butterflies."

The feeling of the butterflies in your stomach can be an uneasy feeling, and some may mistake it for a sickness or a negative feeling, but no matter what one's interpretation is, everyone gets the butterflies.

And I always have wondered who named this feeling the butterflies.

Similar to the way I question the deep blue sea, language and art.

I question the logic behind the naming of the feeling of butterflies.

That is, until I saw a summer butterfly skip across the windowsill of this coffee shop. It fluttered gracefully, but in no certain direction, just up and down and side to side.

To me, the butterfly was lost.

To the butterfly, the path was clear.

This random flight pattern perfectly depicts the feeling that we get when we have the butterflies. We question the feeling and the truth behind it, and most of the time, we are overcome with logic and ignore our butterflies. But, much like the butterfly that dances across this windowsill, our butterflies know what is right.

The questioning of this feeling rejects everything that our butterflies stand for. Because the feeling that we, as humans, have titled the butterflies is not meant to be questioned - it is meant to be trusted.

This feeling is your instinct.

It does not require logic, just trust.

This is the reason people say go with your gut. People such as my parents, whose advice to their daughter who suffers from severe test anxiety, was "trust your instinct when you choose the answer and stick with it."

I am one of those people that checks over their test two times after completing it and second guesses my original answers - only to realize that my second answer was incorrect, and yet again my gut was correct.

The butterflies in your gut question the logic in your mind. I am not saying that relying on the fate of this feeling will get you an A on a test or always steer you in the right direction, but I will tell you that something always will come from it.

I refer to butterflies often because I have them often. I get them when the lyrics of a song remind me of a summer romance, the popping sound the cork of a bottle of wine makes when opened, a card in the mail addressed to me and a first date.

But, most of all, I get them when I write. In fact, I have them right now.

Because, to me, butterflies remind me that I am still doing the things that make me nervous. The things that challenge my logic and take me on the road less traveled.


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