Summer in Portland—those longed for, beatific days promising dry weather for play—is as much a darling as dominatrix.

There’s the constant pressure to get outside, and then there’s the still, hot air when you do. We run for shade and we bathe our delicate Pacific Northwest skins in sunscreen from hairline to pinkie toes. Ahhh, we sweat at each other, glorious. And won’t it be an even more glorious fall?

It got hot again the other day and by late evening I caved and took a shower to cool off. I stood under the welcome spray and let it soothe me. Reached for the soap and went through the motions.

I usually finish up with a quick pumice stone to my granite heels (rock on rock, what else?), but this time when I reached for my trusty stone I noticed the thick cord attached to it looked different. It was a momentary noticing. The cord seemed discolored a little… different. I picked up the stone, pumiced and didn’t think any more about it. Turned the water off and shook my wet head.

Then I noticed the cord at the bottom of the shower, worn through at last and lying there like a wet wishbone. I’d used this pumice stone every day for years—had looked at it with its cord every day for years—and could not remember noticing any particular part of it before. But I knew something was up with that cord today, I thought as I got out to towel off.

How do we know what we know beneath the chatter in our minds? How did I look at that cord and know something was different about it before the cord itself knew it would break?

I think about this subtle kind of knowing a lot. It goes by a lot of different names. Intuition. Guidance. Hunch and instinct. We all have this ability, sometimes trust it. Yet how much air time do we give it in our information age? How often does this other, quieter information actually get through?

The cord is a crude example of what I could interpret as coincidence just as easily as clairvoyance. I choose to understand my attention to the cord and its breaking as the same kind of knowing that has informed the larger movements in my life, even when I’ve worked really hard to keep this knowing out of my awareness.

As I look back, I can hear the whispers that tried to inform my reasoning mind before I made any big decision. I’m now a little embarrassed to say I ignored most of these murmurs for as long as I could because I was often playing out a more absorbing agenda.

I didn’t want to leave a mismatched relationship because what if I never found someone who would be this nice to me again? I didn’t want to change jobs because I might be giving up something secure, and for what? I didn’t want to take a new hiking trail because it might not be as good as my tried and true.

Here’s a thing about Knowing. Knowing is deeply comfortable with the unknown.

It nudges us toward the untried (and possibly even more true) with complete confidence. Because it knows. Knowing knows without having to fill in all the details. Thinking is a details game all day long—the trees. Knowing is the forest, the whole damn continent, the world.

I Know when something has changed and I Know when to move into it. This is my mantra these days. I Know when that gentle, powerful voice is speaking, and, here’s the best part: I can choose to turn up the dial.

Knowing is never going to force my hand or preach at me. And it sure as hell knows better than to say I told you so. Knowing will simply show up the next time and the next time after that, ever patient and ever sure of me, no matter what I choose.

It might take a hundred pumice stones and worn cords for me to start paying attention, or it might only take the one.