Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Misreading Signs

I've been taking a writing class for the past seven weeks. Each night, I have found it strangely coincidental that the exact same parking spot on the street is open, especially when there's a canvas cover over the meter with a sign that says, "Free Parking Any Time." Why wouldn't people be clamoring for that spot?

The other night, as I blithely pulled in to "my" spot, I happened to read the canvas cover a little more carefully.

Amazing how one little word can give a whole new meaning to a sign.

I can't imagine why I thought the word "NO" looked anything like the word "FREE," other than the fact that I simply wanted it to. I read it wrong the first night and never gave it a passing glance the other five. 

Of course, once I knew better I was horrified and wondered how I'd escaped a ticket for six weeks! My car and I slunk away in shame, searching for a legitimate parking spot, but not before I laughed at myself. Everyone needs to be able to do that.

Can you imagine my telling a judge, "I thought the sign said 'Free Parking'?" Perhaps he would require an adult reading class in addition to my writing class--along with a fine. 

When I don't pay attention, it's easy to misinterpret signs. I risk the possibility of receiving a ticket or even having an accident--all because I simply don't take the time to notice important details.

Similarly, I risk offending people and coming across as uncaring when I don't pay attention to or take notice of their thoughts or feelings. It's easy to misread a sign--traffic or human--when I'm in a hurry, or worse--when I simply choose to look the other way and ignore it. And the repercussions of that on a human level are far more complex than a parking ticket.

Being "too busy" is a poor excuse. We can be busy and still slow down enough to take notice of the signs around us.

When I slow down enough to pay attention, and to really take notice, my relationships are enriched and my senses restored. I notice things like this: 

And this:

But especially this:

I might have missed that questioning look if I wasn't paying attention. 

Lest you think I've perfected this paying attention thing, allow me to share with you one more sign that I saw as I pulled alongside the empty curb in front of the library the other day--the same place I've been parking for months (on a weekday at 5:00 pm). 

Yeah...no more words are needed.

Blessings Along the Path,

Sharing this blog with some of these lovelies  


  1. Misreading signs. Yup. Just this morning I was linking up my blog and glancing over the titles of other blogs. I noticed one that said, "Thinking Dads." Hmmm. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the author meant by that. Was she writing about intellectual dads or philosophical dads or smart dads? I finally realized that the title was "Thanking Dads." I got a chuckle out of myself.

    But sometimes, misreading signs isn't funny at all. When we are working at being good listeners, it takes a lot of concentration to do it well. Often, it's body language that speaks louder than words. I have recently had a conversation with a couple of people in which the words they were saying were hurtful. I felt attacked and dismissed at the same time. No one seemed to notice my posture, my eyes, or my defensively crossed arms. At the end of the conversation, one of them said, "You're quiet. What's wrong?" Helloooo...

    May the Lord teach me to be a good listener. To others, and to Him. I don't want to miss anything.


    1. Yes, that's it in a nutshell. I could have taken so many different roads with this, but I wanted to keep it short and simple. Thinking dads...that's a good one. So good to "see" you here, Sharon!

  2. Oh, we definitely live in the same universe! I can't believe the way I get things scrambled sometimes. The worst part is I think I'm write, not realizing I've got it completely backwards. I'll remember an appointment at the wrong time, think I know, so don't double-check my calendar... Hope you're doing well! If you get bored, come visit my Reflections of a Reluctant List Maker post. It's one of the first humorous posts I've done in a while and I was thinking of you and our love of humor. So far all my commenters are totally list people and I feel like I'm living in the alternate universe with my scrambled brain!

    1. Thanks for stopping by to visit, Ginger, and for taking the time to comment. I'm honored that you thought of me while writing a humorous blog! I wish I could say I get bored, but I can't remember the last time I actually had time to think about wanting to become bored. But as time permits, I will swing by your blog and read your post.