Reading between the signs.


There are only so many inspirational songs one can sing, only so many motivational posters one can post, only so many self-help essays one can read – and write – until one must get off one’s ass and do what one must do.

Before recently re-arriving at this aha moment, however, I was a free spirit who was bound by the belief that all I needed in order to fly was one more lesson. One more class. One more personal growth retreat.

I thought, The next opportunity I get, I will take it.

I said, “My next opportunity to move, I will make it.”

I did nothing. Chance after chance, I debated and waited for another one.

“If this is a sign, then give me a sign!” I shouted to a hawk that was circling a rainbow-haloed sun.

I do not speak hawk, but I believe it squawked:


How many signs does it take to get to the center of a firm decision? By my count, umpteen.

I have not taken a survey, but I assume that most people do not want to make foolish decisions. I, being one of those people and a fairly intuitive person at that, therefore turn to the act of sign-seeking to reduce my error rate.

“If this is a bad idea, then give me a sign.”

“If this is a good idea, then give me a sign.”

In some cases, I find these sign signals handy. For instance, there are times when I want to do a particular thing and not do that particular thing at the same time. Psychologists call this “Approach-Avoidance Conflict.” My ex- called it “Crazy.” At any rate, seeking signs can calm my conflicted nature and help me weigh my options to make the best decisions.

But then there are the times when I receive signs that give no apparent direction. No listing of how many miles it will take to arrive at a decision. No designated road to exit from the current one that I am traveling. Not even a sign to stop, yield or slow. Just illustrations of premonitions that indicate something in the distance, but what, I do not know.

“Hit the brakes!” I shout. “Who is driving this thing anyway?”

I search for a reply only to find my reflection in the mirror, my hands on the wheel, and my foot on the gas.

“That’s right, I am in the driver’s seat. But where am I going?”

“Wherever you want to go,” a familiar voice answers.

The answer startles me.

“That’s right,” I repeat, this time more deliberately, “I am in the driver’s seat.”

You’ve probably heard it said – and sung – that life is a highway, and indeed, it is. Filled with all kinds of twists and turns and innumerable projects under construction, life presents similar but unique routes for each of us to travel. Whatever the speed or the distance, wherever we go and however we get there is ultimately up to us.

Nevertheless, for a sign-seeking slow poke like me, life’s highway can be daunting. At times, it seems so busy and congested and prone to costly pile-ups. In other instances, it can appear very isolating and make one feel so damn lonely – and “Crazy” – particularly when one has chosen to take a side road that leads away from the ‘safety’ of the pack.

This is where I am now. I am journeying down a side road away from the thoroughfare of 9-to-5 jobs, 30-year mortgages and lifelong lifeless marriages in – what I hope – is the right direction at – what I hope – is the right time to – what I hope – is the right place for me. You see, I’ve come to realize that the only real sign that gives any real sort of direction on the side roads of life is hope.

Where hawks and rainbow halos lead me to question my very eyes, hope directs me onward. Where dwindling finances and the rising cost of living lead me to question my very mind, hope directs me onward. Whether I encounter a sign, an apparition or a mere figment of my imagination, the only real thing that I have to direct me through all of it is hope.

And yet, firmly holding onto hope means that signs’ meanings will yield whatever the beholder of hope wants them to mean. Because much like beauty, hope is subject to the hopeful.

Therefore, it really does not matter what a sign may or may not mean, it really only matters whether I have the hope to make that sign meaningful to me.

Copyright © 2014-2016 Stephanie Rochelle Redd. All rights reserved.


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