Mondays are my day off, my “me” days, and this past Monday I decided to lay in the sunshine and read. So I picked up some water and snacks, grabbed the newest book off my shelf (Everything That Remains by The Minimalists) and headed to Kelly Drive, a section of Fairmount Park complete with running/biking trails and a view of the water. Exactly what I was looking for.
The grass was muddy from all the rainstorms, so I headed to the wooden rowing bleachers which – looking back – I suppose wasn’t my best move – because of their placement, I was more out of sight from the beaten path.
It was hot and humid, my favorite kind of weather, and I was enjoying my quiet time (something everyone should make time for!) when all of the sudden my heart started racing and beating forcefully out of my chest. A few seconds later, a man walked by me on the thin strip of land between me and the mucky water’s edge. We made eye contact and I said hi as I do to everyone, but this felt different…this meeting of the eyes sent chills down my body and goosebumps spread from the top of my head to my toes. After his eyes left mine, he glanced at my bag which had my laptop peeking out of it. He kept walking and took a seat about 50 yards away from me. All of the alarms in my body were going off, telling me this was bad man. I kept my sunglasses on and pretended to keep reading, but really I was watching him out of my peripheral vision and my body was preparing for fight or flight.
Eventually, he got up and walked in the opposite direction, back up to the path out of my sight. Uneasiness surrounded me. I didn’t want to overreact but I felt that something wasn’t right and I felt it in my bones. I stayed and contemplated getting out my switchblade and holding my ground. Deciding against it, I slowly, calmly, began to plan my exit. I took my rings off as not to attract any more unwanted attention (did he want to rob me?) and within that second he was back, circling me like an animal does its prey. This time walking slowly and licking his lips as his eyes locked onto my upper thighs. His teeth were dark and one was shiny gold – a slow motion scene forever burned into my memory.
Once again, he took a seat a little ways away but I knew I had to get out of there, quick. So I gathered my stuff as calmly as I could, making sure to appear confident and unrattled. All I kept thinking was, “I just have to make it to the path of runners and I will be ok…I can do that.” But as soon as I stood up, he stood as well and headed right for me. He yelled something inaudible and I picked up my pace…so did he. At this point, I had a choice – take the steps to the top (the shorter distance) and hope someone is walking by at the same time or go around the longer way and be visible to more people quicker. I took a step to go the longer way and my foot slipped in the mud. I immediately changed direction and sprinted to the top of the steps, now engaged in a full blown chase. I made it to the top first and threw myself at the first person I saw, an extremely large african american priest. I don’t remember what I said to him but he must have understood me and held me tight. Not a moment too soon, the other guy reached the top within seconds grasping for my ankles. He took one look at the man I attached myself to and bolted in the opposite direction towards Center City.
So many feelings and thoughts were -and still are- rushing through me. After I stopped shaking and the initial shock started wearing off, the whole thing felt completely surreal. Mostly I was grateful that I didn’t ignore that feeling that told me to get out when it did. What if I did ignore it? What could have happened to me? I am trying hard not to focus on that, but I have my moments. Was it because I was wearing shorts and a tank top? Was I showing too much skin? Was it because he saw that I had a computer and rings and things he could steal? Then I got pissed off. Pissed off that we live in a society that makes me HAVE TO think about these types of things. How DARE you make me feel like that! HOW DARE YOU!?
Listening to my intuition on Monday saved me from what I think could have been a truly horrendous experience. And for that, I am so so so grateful that I was able to sense danger and make the right moves in time to get myself to safety. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about intuition and I travelled back to a time in my life where I didn’t have that little voice within me.
It was a cycle that I recall all too well. I firmly believe that we are all born with a strong intuition and over time, it becomes ignored, neglected and overruled by our brains’ rationalizations and reasoning. Then one day you wake up looking for it and it’s gone. I remember a rough point in my life, desperately trying to find it, and upon locating it, not knowing if I could trust it or not. Not trusting myself was the most frustrating point for me and the hardest to work through. It was like being stuck in a foreign land where you don’t speak the language, have no maps and no way to navigate. But I did know that I had to just keep moving.
Eventually, through an onslaught of self reflection, mindful actions being present, I began to live an authentic life, trusting and believing in myself.
It’s tough though, because everywhere we look, we are being told to think logically and think things through before making decisions – but your intuition is based in your emotions. So…which is it?
Perhaps – like all things - it’s about finding a balance.