I had a boyfriend once who exasperatedly exclaimed – “You see symbols everywhere!” – as if this was a bad thing. But the answer is yes, yes I do. It’s how my brain works; it’s how my brain talks to me about what it (and by it, I mean me – though perhaps not at a conscious level) sees and what it thinks is important. 

I’m not going to try to find it right now because one of my top rules (more of a set of guidelines, really) for this project is DO NOT DERAIL THE WRITING – just get it out there. 


I recall reading somewhere once that while we as human beings make heavy use of language, our brains do not. I imagine it to be sort of like we use spoken and written language for communicating with each other is much the same as when we use a more human-oriented coding language such as JavaScript to tell a computer what we want. But then underneath it all, there is Machine Language – the binary code – that the computer itself actually uses. And in between, there is this less human friendly but still easier than binary code Assembly Language that bridges the gap between the lower level substrates and the higher-level functions. 

My brain seems to think that symbols work the same way, communicating between lower and higher layers of functionality or consciousness. If that’s true, then of course I see symbols. It means I am paying attention to what my brain, my subconscious, is trying to tell me. 

Through our senses, we take in far more data about the world around us than we could ever fully process at a conscious level. That’s not to say that our brains aren’t storing and then using at least some of that data anyway – it’s just in the background. 

In my way of thinking, it’s a lot like tagging information as important or unimportant, routing the important stuff to the conscious level for open thought and other uses – or keeping it in storage for (possible) later use. Sometimes, the brain chunks away at processing some of the data on its own skunkworks project and then if it detects some pattern or interesting anomaly, it may flag the larger result itself to be sent up for conscious processing. 

It can be a pretty powerful process, but there are two important considerations The first is that if we want to harness more of that unused brainpower, we have to tell the brain what’s important so that it will know what to filter in and what to filter out. The second is that we have to pay attention to the symbols in our lives and consider what our brains are trying to communicate. 

Letting our brains know what is important is relatively easy. Our brains are effectively machine learning applications and the words that we speak are how we train or program them what to look for. Affirmations aren’t some woo-woo thing – they are one effective way to talk to our brains and train them what is important. 

Listening to what my brain has to say when it’s trying to talk to me is tougher but it’s all got to do with symbolism. 

I confess – even as a person with a scientific view of life, the universe and everything, I regularly read horoscopes and Tarot cards and the like. Here’s the thing, though – there doesn’t have to be some supernatural power causing these things to deliver magically accurate advice for them to be useful. Even if there were (are?) forces beyond our understanding doing exactly that, how much would it matter? 

The truth is, even when we get great advice from our friends and families who are experts in finance, climate change, world policy, job searches and so forth, we do not listen to that great advice unless we’re ready for it. 

Whether or not your I Ching coins are miraculously delivering some powerful truth is completely beside the point. What your brain picks up within the message and passes on to your conscious thinking via the symbology is far more important. It may or may not be accurate and may or may not be the most useful message at that particular point in time – but in that moment, it is the best output the brain can deliver based on the data gathered that is readily available, combined with its current programming. 

Then it’s up to us to interpret what the symbols mean, a uniquely personal process. Based on centuries of stories of humans misinterpreting oracles, we’re notoriously bad at that part – but with practice, we can be better. 

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