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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Signs, signs, everywhere are signs.
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Tuesday, September 4,2012

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs.

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  
Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind. "Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?” This was one of my favorite songs growing up. As a very young girl it was just a catchy folk song on the radio. As a teenager, the rebellious lyrics appealed to me. In college it was an easy song to learn on the guitar and a fun sing-along during my I-wish-Iwere-a-hippie-but-I-live-inthe-eighties days, when my friends and I would make road trips to Woodstock (astonished by, and a bit envious of, the candle vendors who attended the concert in 1969 and never left... but I digress). As an adult, I have altered my interpretation of the lyrics to fit with my enlightenment-inprogress self.

Clearly individual freedom is at the core of this song. Signs like, “Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight,” cause the protagonist to jump right over that fence to confront such a hoarder of Mother Nature. But the signs, to the singer, are getting in the way and blocking scenery, rights, and freedoms. Perhaps my favorite stanza is when he responds to the sign informing that “long-haired freaky people need not apply” by tucking his hair under his hat and going in to ask why, only to have the unsuspecting man (as in THE Man, man) hire the “fine upstanding young man.” Throughout the song, the singer is fighting back against the rules because they thwart his individual freedoms (to do things like trespass, be a long-haired hippie freak and not pay taxes). Indeed, there really are signs everywhere, and they are telling us to “do this, don’t do that,” but the signs in my new-age interpretation of the lyrics are not about making us follow rules, rather they are those signs that speak to our unconscious desires that go too often untended, lest they pull us away from the business of everyday life. These signs, rather than blocking out the scenery, are part of it. For example, you are driving down the street and you come across a turtle in the middle of the road. Being the compassionate person that you are, you stop traffic and get this turtle out of harm’s way. That could be the end of it, good deed for the day... check! But what if you ask yourself, “Why would a turtle appear out of nowhere in my life today? If that turtle has a message for me, what is it?” Then you wait a moment, and just see what answer comes naturally. Perhaps it is obvious, like, “Life goes by so fast, we could all benefit from slowing down.” Or, “Like that turtle, I sometimes wander into situations without thinking and get myself into trouble” ...pause...reflect... Or perhaps a little deeper, “What would it be like to carry a shell all around you like armor and go inside whenever things get too scary?... that shell would not have saved him. What does my shell protect me from?” Whatever the answer, the turtle was just a vehicle for your inner voice to be heard. A sign (a sign-al) to pay attention. There are countless opportunities each day to ask ourselves life’s important questions, but without a meditation mat and some chimes we may not make time for them. Observing signs in everyday life is kind of like meditation on-the-go. If you don’t ask the questions, you can’t hear the answers, so look for signs all around you all the time. Word to the wise, however: Before you go around telling everyone what every little thing means to you, keep in mind that insights are called INsights for a reason. They are really only enlightening to you. Your friends might think you’ve lost it when you e x p l a i n t o them that your uncut grass is telling you to let your hair down and let your freak flag fly!


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