Signs. They’re everywhere. Stop. Yield. Sharp curve ahead. They’re obvious. Well-intentioned. Clear. They’re well-placed to help people avoid trouble. Not all signs in life are as clear. Or maybe they are. We just aren’t paying attention. But they are there. And they’re there to help you. Just like the signs you see on the side of the road.
I have felt, over the last month, as if I have been inundated with signs. They’re all telling me to slow down. Prioritize. Stop wasting time. Stop trying to find time to do the silly things you think you “should” be doing. Those “things” are just self-concocted notions you’ve dreamt up in your head that you foolishly believe you should be doing in order to live the perfect life you think you should be living. News flash: No one’s life is perfect. No matter how it appears from the outside.
But I digress. Back to these “signs” of mine. There were three. –At least, there were three that I took notice of.
My first sign was that I forgot my Nexus notebook at my parents’ house after visiting for Easter. A well-timed accident? Perhaps. But it meant spending more time with my kids and family over spring break instead of on the internet, checking email, Facebook and Pinterest. And guess what? The world did not fall apart because I didn’t post, like, share, comment or pin for a week.
My second sign came after I called a friend to go for a walk in the park on one of the first nice days of the year. As we meandered around the park’s nature preserve, I mentioned that I had seen an Amish buggy pass in front of our house that morning. She smiled, nodded and said she often thought it would be nice to live that kind of lifestyle. Simple. Without all the stress we place on ourselves and our children. I admitted I had often thought the same thing.
Finally, a couple days ago, a friend of mine shared a post about paying attention to the moments that matter. The woman who wrote the post directed her message to all the moms and dads glued to their iPhones and smartphones at the playground while their kids are playing and trying desperately to get their parents’ attention. The message those children are receiving, she said, is that they are not as important as that phone. And those children will, sadly, learn by example. In the meantime, these parents are missing out on all the smiles, laughter, twirling, swinging, singing, climbing, and playing. Those are the moments that matter. The moments that are all too fleeting. Our kids aren’t always going to want to try to get our attention or spend time with us. So savor those times while you have them. Regrets are ugly and painful.
Now, I didn’t necessarily see each of these signs clearly as they came long. But the culmination of the instances I described delivered a startling moment of clarity. And these are the messages I received from my “signs:” Put down your tablet or smartphone while you’re with your kids. Give them your attention. Turn your phones off during dinner. Show your kids and your family that they’re what’s important to you. Enjoy the little things, because they’re actually the big things.
Would those instances I experienced have been considered “signs” to someone else? Would they have gotten the same messages from them that I did? Maybe not. But does it matter? They’re my signs. I saw them. I connected the dots. And I recieved the messages. Like flashing yellow lights. Slow down. Or you’ll run into trouble up ahead.