Impulse or Intellect?

If I didn’t let my intellect frame my decisions, where would impulse lead me?

One of my very earliest memories is from before I could walk, so I would guess under a year of age, when I had the impulse to be alone in the snow after a tremendous blizzard. I crawled off into a snowbank near where my mother was shoveling the walk, and dug a cave for myself. I used a teaspoon she had given me to play with in the snow. The cave was larger than me and I was down at the bottom in the glow light makes through snow. It was quiet, I was protected by the snow, I was supremely happy. My mother called for me a good long time before she found the hiding place. She drug me out by my little feet I think. She was very angry. My feet hurt exquisitely when they began to thaw, which didn’t seem fair at all after such a good time.

A similarly odd memory is from when I was about seven, swimming in the bottom of a  deep section of the Catskill Creek near Freehold. I remember being blissfully happy swimming underwater for a very long time. I discovered that I could breathe underwater without coming up for air, that I could breath the water itself like my fish ancestors from way back. I had gills or something by my ears, very exciting. I had found a place of special powers. Except that when my mother dragged me out of the water she said I was drowning. She carried me upside down by the feet to the stream bank and deposited me on the rocks. She was furious. I was finding it very hard to breathe regular air.

Later, I tempered impulse with intellect. I started to ask, was mother going to drag me out of here and be angry? Much later, I channeled impulse into other areas like experiments. What if this, what if that?  Safer places where I wasn’t the subject and the outcomes did not include my own death.

If I didn’t let intellect frame my decisions, I wouldn’t be here to write about it.

How do you frame your decisions, with impulse or intellect?

Park, Rome

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3 responses to “Impulse or Intellect?”

  1. I too utilize a combination of both impulse & intellect. When it comes to a decision, the best advice I ever received came from my stepfather. “Always trust your instinct.” I’ve found when I’ve heeded this advice the results are well.


  2. Hi, Jennifer! What an interesting thing to ponder. Perhaps every individuals balance of and attentiveness to impulse and intellect evolves with experience. Hence, our behavior, perhaps more “civilized”, develops with time, from birth!


  3. Jennifer, you pose an interesting question. You’ve got quite a good memory about your early childhood! I remember a lot of my early childhood, too. I recall being fearless and going with my first thoughts. For example, I remember chasing down a tiger swallowtail butterfly on my parents’ stone wall that overlooked their driveway. I fell and cut my knee, but I wasn’t scared and hadn’t thought about the consequences.

    To answer your question, I act according to a balance of impulse and intellect. The impulse is the drive, and intellect shapes the decisions for me.



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