Every once in awhile, while you are busy
living your life and distracted by all the
shiny, noisy stuff out there competing for
your attention, the universe will find a way
to nag you about something. Something that
you’ve been ignoring. For a little too long.
It tugs at your sleeve, and you might not
notice the first tug or even the second. But
after more than a few tugs in the same
direction, you begin to wonder – is it your
imagination, or is something in the ether
trying to tell you something?
When this sort of thing happens, I pay
attention, because it’s usually important.
Important enough to stop and take a hard
look at what these quiet little signals are
It’s funny how in our own little world we
think everything is normal. We go along,
doing what we do, not exactly thinking
about the way we are, and how that affects
the people around us. Hopefully we are
affecting the world in a positive way – and
I think everyone starts out with this intent –
but our efforts aren’t always received in the
way we intend them.
If we are lucky, some loving, patient soul
will make an attempt to point this out to us.
If we are lucky. And at the first mention of
such things, we might laugh it off as a joke,
or a slight misunderstanding. And it may
well be just a joke. But in every joke there
is a sliver of truth – and possibly a message
that someone is trying to get across to
you, to bring you a bit of awareness about
If we are lucky, this loving, patient soul
might make several attempts to point this
out to us. If we are lucky. But many people
– myself included – are pretty stubborn. It’s
difficult to consider that another gentle soul
out there thinks you need tweaking. For
many of us it is much more than a tweak
that we need, but nudges in the direction we
need to go are much easier to handle than a
great big shove.
At this point, we might be likely to brush
it off as a minor embarrassment, generally
ignoring the gesture, and thus the message.
Again. Perhaps the message repeats itself in
another form, from another friend, a family
member, or even a stranger. Hmm. Maybe,
you think, I should take a harder look at
this. Why does this keep coming up?
If you’re like me, and were brought up by
a strong, proud woman, it’s nice to have that
confidence modeled for you, and to have
been taught that it’s a good thing to speak
your mind when you have a point to make.
But like a lot of things in life, it’s a double-
edged sword, and you have to be careful
that this skill doesn’t get you into trouble at
the same time. You can’t ever be so sure of
yourself that you consider these suggestions
petty. That would be a mistake.
If you’re like me, the stuff surrounding
the rocks in your head is made of very thick,
dense material, and you have an even more
difficult challenge. It might take an absurd
number of attempts before the messages
even begin to seep through and start making
What’s worse, they seep through at different
rates, so epiphanies can be few and
far between. Sometimes the messengers,
assuming their efforts have fallen on deaf
ears, just give up. I can’t blame them.
I’m thankful for all the messengers – the
ones who were gracious enough to stick
with it and the ones who were not. Those
very brave souls who tried to find a way
to present it so that it would be heard, and
perhaps accepted. Thankful for those who
tried more than once, and in several ways to
tell me something I needed to hear.
It certainly did make me annoyed, frustrated
and/or angry at the time, but I did
hear you, and it made sense eventually, even
if I never admitted it. You’ve all made a difference,
whether you realize it or not.
I’m thankful for the epiphanies. When it
seems certain phases of pain and learning
are over and done with, I’m amazed that
realizations can pop up in the strangest of
places, sparked by unlikely events, and how
much sense they make when they appear.
It’s like another part of your awareness just
snapped into focus.
I love these moments, even though they
typically come after a very painful struggle.
I consider myself fortunate to have them.
Many times I wasn’t even aware I was
struggling with anything at all.
They say life is all about lessons. The
same problem will present itself again and
again, and when you finally understand,
you move on to the next lesson. I am glad
for the lessons, and deeply thankful to the
There is a poem called “There’s A Hole In
My Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson that pretty
much sums up how our life lessons go. It
refers to a person who walks down the same
street every day and somehow falls into the
same hole time after time.
Each time there is a different rationale
for falling in that moves from ignorance to
awareness, and each time the hole is regarded
with a revised strategy. Eventually, the
person simply walks down another street.
Since I have several holes in my sidewalk,
I am at a different point of strategy with
each one. I try to avoid the biggest holes
first. It’s tough, because at my age, bad
habits are very hard to break. Hopefully
someday I will walk down a street without
any holes, but I have a feeling that day is
still a long way off.
For those of you who have bothered to,
thanks for helping me see those holes. Now
I just need to find that sidewalk with the
freshly laid cement …
Originally published October 11, 2013