Friday, 30 August 2013

Do You Believe In Signs?

The other day at work, I was talking with the hotel concierge in the lobby, when an elderly guest approached.  After he had finished speaking with the concierge, he turned to me and told me that he had thoroughly enjoyed watching me teach scuba diving the day before.  He told me that he thought I was a very good teacher, because I possessed the right qualities for it: knowledge and skills in my subject matter, enthusiasm, and patience.  We talked some more and he told me his name was John and that he was himself a teacher of many years standing.  I thanked him for his compliments and I told him that they meant a great deal to me, as I was thinking of going into teaching formally as a high school teacher.  What he said to me next was the sign for which I had been seeking.      

For many of us, making tough decisions is a difficult process.  I know that at times, despite everything that my heart is yelling at me, despite all of its urges, I feel completely unsure and afraid of the consequences, afraid of the unknown that lies down the particular path I am considering.  Even if I know and understand the logic and rationale behind the decision that must be taken, I still feel a deep sense of trepidation.  When this occurs, I feel the need to seek out something illogical, something mystical, something spiritual.  It is as though some primeval sense demands it of me.  I start to look for something that will show to me the rightness of the decision that I am going to make.  I begin the search for a sign.

A sign.  It shows us the way to go, it tells us the direction to take.  Without them, we would quickly become lost.  Imagine driving down the highway and not having any sign posts to show you which exit you needed to take.  You could guess and you might be right, but until you turned off and tried one of the exits, you would encounter uncertainty and doubt.  Life is like this too.  Throughout our lives, we are taught to read signs of all kinds.  A smile means that someone is happy, dark clouds gathering on the horizon means rain, a feeling of thirst means we are dehydrated.  To get through life, we need to know the signs, to be able to read them, and we need to be able react to them.

For sometime now, I have had the idea of becoming a teacher running through my mind.  To tell the truth, it's been there for many years as an idle thought, perhaps nothing more than a curiosity, since I was ten years old.  More recently, it has begun to turn into something more, it has started to grow wings.  This is an idea that keeps on coming back to me, time and time again, it seems like I cannot rid myself of it and it cannot rid itself of me.  If I were to go through with the idea, it would mean a significant life change and a commitment.  It would mean turning my back on my current life and turning instead to something completely new - a path that is unknown and dark to me.  I am afraid of this idea because of what it means, but at the same time, I also believe that it is something that I must do, something important for my life.  To help me with my decision, I have been on the look out for a sign to show me the right way.

The other day at the hotel, John came as the bearer of that sign.  In those words that he spoke to me, I knew the rightness of the path that lies ahead of me.  We cannot create the signs, they have to come to us of their own free will.  There are days when we are desperate to find the answer for which we urgently seek and we see nothing.  Those are the times when we feel as though we have been deserted and left to our own devices.  Sometimes that is a sign in itself.  There are certain decisions that can only be made between you and your heart.  There need not be any other external factor involved.  Other times, we look and we are rewarded.  I remember a time when I was alone in Malaysia.  I had just separated from my partner and travel partner and we had decided to go our own ways.  I was travelling back to the Perhentians Islands to continue my scuba diving education.  On the boat from the mainland across the South China Sea to the islands, I felt lonely, sad and afraid of what was happening.  I can remember looking over the side of the boat, towards the bow to watch the white water that sprayed up as the boat cut through the ocean.  There, in the spray I saw small rainbows, brilliant colours of arcing light that just hung there, motionless, as if they had been waiting for me.  It was the sign that the decision that I had taken was the right one, I felt a sense of peace sweep over me, and my heart felt at ease.

Sometimes we misread the signs, we see only those things that only exist in our own truth of a situation.  How many times have I made the mistake of believing that a girl I liked very much and was giving me lots of attention, was attracted to me?  I figure that because of the attention, this girl must really be in to me, so I decide to ask her for a date.  The reality is that she is only being her usual friendly self and is this way with everyone.  I misread the signs because I saw only what I wanted to see, not the reality and the real truth of the situation.  I am completely unable to read women - period.  They remain a complete enigma and a mystery to me, but that is for a different post.

A sign reinforces our point of view and helps us to feel more comfortable with our decision.  Whether we like it or not, humans have a deep need to establish a spiritual connection, to believe that something exists that is greater than ourselves.  We are part of this great mystery of life, we are part of the miracle.  Signs hep us because they meet our psychological need for reassurance, that a greater power is willing us to go in a certain direction, that we are being helped along our path.  Maybe none of this is correct.  Perhaps it is all too easy to make the pieces fit, to look back with hindsight and to make certain things become the truth.  Would my life have turned out exactly the same if I had not seen the rainbows that day?  Perhaps it would, perhaps it would not.  It really does not matter.  All that matters is that I believe that life places signs in front of us to help us, to guide us, to show us the way that we need to go.

The other day at the hotel, John was the bearer of my sign.  When I told him that I had long thought of becoming a school teacher and that I was now seriously considering the idea, his words held meaning for me.  "It is your calling", he said.  And you know something?  I truly believe that what he said is right.  John is an angel, a messenger that came to me, that spoke the words that my heart needed to hear.  I do believe in signs, do you? 


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