I’ve often driven down the road, looking at all the hundreds of road signs along the way, and thought to myself that so many situations in life could easily be described through these signs. It’s just a matter of interpretation. And I’m here to interpret them for you, my friends. Of course, these interpretations are mine and mine alone – two things: you don’t have to share this interpretation, and secondly, I’m going to try to give an occasional example to support my theories. A window into my madness, if you will. Most of all, I’m having fun with this – I do it on the road to have fun and pass the time on my commute, and I’m doing it for fun here. Also, if you’re interested – I wrote a post on life and how it’s a lot like driving.
Here we go – buckle up for safety! And sanity.
Possibly one of the most telling signs when it comes to describing life. Winding road ahead. Yep, I think that about covers it. I had no idea what life had in store for me when I was younger, but to describe my journey as a winding road is putting it mildly. I’ve shared some of my curves along the way here, and I know that everyone out there has their own to reflect on. Needless to mention – if you’ve been driving along a straight road your whole life, you should be checking your pulse. And if you’re expecting to drive down a nice safe, straight road for the rest of your life, you’re very likely in for some great surprises, my friend.
This is one of the most obvious of road signs, and hopefully we have all had some really obvious times in our lives where we were given hints and suggestions that would bring our current behaviour to a complete stop. Sure, there are the blatant moments, such as when you’re a kid and you’re about to stick your finger in the fan and your mom yells at you to stop. What?! Didn’t everyone do that? But maybe these particular signs aren’t always as obvious as we’d like them to be and you have to be looking for them too. Like right after my dad died of lung cancer. I was sitting there smoking my filter-less Camels (2 packs a day) and thinking of how much I missed my dad. Sadly I didn’t see the STOP sign clearly until several years after that. But I did stop.
This sign means to share the road with oncoming traffic. On the great road of life, what exactly would oncoming traffic be? Well my interpretation is that this traffic has to be other people, and if they’re headed toward you, traveling in the opposite direction as you are, I’d say we’re safe to interpret that as follows: these are people whose views, values, beliefs and opinions differ from yours. That’s what makes them head in opposite directions. But here’s the fun part – you still have to share the road with them. Perhaps this sign is telling us that we don’t have a way out of this. We should be practicing tolerance for those that differ from who we are, from what we believe in and those that place value on things that we don’t. It appears as though sharing the road, and being aware of this other traffic on it, is very possible without ever colliding in a violent clash of ideas, beliefs, religious dogma or anything else for that matter. Keep on your headlights – I’m a firm believer of letting our little light shine wherever we are – don’t be afraid of who you are, where you come from and what you believe in. But respect the others doing the exact same thing. There will be a lot less accidents if we do. Let’s try it, shall we?
This one’s easy, people. It simply means “Speed up, and hopefully you’ll be having venison for supper tonight.” There’s really no other way to interpret that.
Certain signs, though easy to interpret and providing us with instructions that are easy to follow, should be ignored. I have always felt that this is the case with speed limits, especially in Edmonton. This sign is another great example. Sure, a ONE WAY sign is helpful on real roads, but I’ve always ignored this sign on life’s roads. Following life’s ONE WAY signs means you’re conforming. There are times to conform, but most of the time, it’s not the way to go. Conforming makes your life not yours. Sure, it can often simplify matters, but when you’re on your deathbed, will you look back and gladly remember the times you headed down the one way with everyone else when every fibre of your being and your soul screamed that you should do your own thing? I would recommend going against the flow of traffic, against popular opinion, against what everyone else is doing – as long as you’re doing what defines you. If you’re doing what makes you happy, and what is really you inside, keep doing it – even if you’re heading down the street the wrong way. Don’t always conform because being conventional isn’t always who you really are.
Keep right – obstacle ahead. That’s how I look at this one. Sure, on the road you could call it a median, but who’s really on the road while they’re reading my blog post? We’re ALL on life’s road and that’s what matters here. So yeah, this sign should be posted all over life’s road – because those obstacles come up all the time. Frankly I wish I could shove this sign right into every uterus out there, because there is nothing that prepares us for these obstacles, and they start the second we’re born. Luckily it appears that we DO have SOME advance notice of these obstacles. These are things we can prepare for, and if done properly, we can make a smooth curve around the obstacle and stay on the road. I’ve often thought of these “medians” as small speedbumps along the way – things we can make small adjustments to the steering wheel and get around. Things like mid-term exams, little spats in our relationships, flat tires. We’ll survive these ones.
This kind of sign has always triggered thoughts of decisions for me. Decisions, decisions, decisions. This is a 3-way intersection – meaning there are 3 alternatives and it’s up to you when it comes to which one you’re going to take. Sometimes we’re lucky and we have a straight road ahead of us for a while, with no obstacles and no intersections and we don’t have to make any decisions. But most often, in almost every instant of our lives, we are making decisions. Think about it. When are we not making decisions? Even the moment after we’ve made a decision, we’re likely making another, related to the first. It’s an endless cycle – day in and day out, year in and year out. Thank goodness most of us get better at making decisions as we get older. Or do we?
These are the ones that aren’t so friendly. Not because we won’t survive them. No, hidden intersections aren’t usually killers – if we’re looking out for them. But there are also those that we didn’t catch the signage for. Those ones that jump out at us. The ones that, as someone starts driving out of that hidden intersection, right into our path, you will likely be cleaning out your shorts. And they exist on life’s roads too. They’re the ones you have veer around. When you don’t know they’re coming, they can scare the living piss out of you and hopefully all the things you’ve done to prepare will let you survive and carry on. One of my hidden intersections? How about one where the sign was posted, and I should have been expecting it, but I missed the signs, and it nearly caused me to hit the ditch when I came upon this intersection? How about that one? Yep, I think that one qualifies. Have you ever encountered that hidden intersection that surprised the crap out of you? Can you remember what you did? Can you remember how you felt after you passed the “intersection” and kept driving on the great road of life?
I was trying to figure out what this sign is trying to tell me. In life, much as on the road, there is always traffic slower than you. Unless you’re my father-in-law. But for most of us, there are people and drivers slower than us. And they can get infuriating. You can let it mean what you want – these can be idiots, they can be people who just see things differently…. it doesn’t matter what pigeon-hole you want to stick them into – they’re traveling in the same direction as you are, but not at the same speed. What to do? Let’s hope that there are two lanes on that road – that you can sail by them, shaking your fist at them, cursing their very being. That’s what this sign implies – there are, at the very least, two lanes and you can make it by these people safely and end up where you were going. But here’s some food for thought – what about those roads of life where you have these slow-driving idiots in front of you? And you can’t pass them? How do you deal with them? How do you deal with those people that do things differently from the way you do things, when you can’t just drive by them?
Children crossing. Seems simple, no? Trust me, when children start crossing your path, in one way or another, it’s a big deal. I never wanted kids – my wife wanted about 14 kids, so I agreed to compromise at 0-1 kids. The second I met Abigail, my oldest child, I realized I shouldn’t have waited this long to have kids and that I wanted more. There are so many ways where children can cross your path and require a warning sign to prepare you. How, you ask? What about when they become teens and turn into creatures of your nightmares? What happens when you’ve decided it’s time to have children and things don’t turn out the way you had envisioned? Read my great friends’ blog entries from September and October 2010 and see for yourself. What happens when life has unfolded as you anticipated? You got married, you had kids, you’re living life and then….. you lose a child. What then? Sure it’s easy to say “Parents should never have to bury their children” but what do you do when it’s you? That’s another way children can cross the road of life, cause us to slow down and make adjustments.
This is another one that’s almost too easy. I know I’m practically patronizing you by “interpreting” it, but I’ll do it anyway. This one clearly means to tell us life is short, so go and get a great rocking chair and enjoy it. As if you didn’t know that.
Here’s another one that it relatively easy to interpret – in my humble opinion, it indicates it’s alright to be single, as long as you’re driving through confetti and have a powerful rear-wheel drive car.
So this is the last one (for this time) – and again, it should be crystal clear to almost anyone. This sign is there to let us know that eventually, sometime, somewhere, you’re going to get rocked. Your little ship is going to hit some kind of storm. Your little car on the great road of life is going to experience a rock-slide. What is that rock slide going to be? I can’t tell you that. It could be anything – a death, a new life, a trip or an adventure, a new love, anything that rocks your world. What should you do when that rock slide happens? That’s another thing I can’t tell you. You’re going to veer, you’re going to step on it and get through just in time, you’re going to slam on your brakes and stop just in time or you’re going to get slammed. Hard.
That’s it for this time, my friends. I hope you had some fun interpreting these road signs with me, and seeing how they could just as well be pounded into the roadside of this great highway we’re all headed down. I’ve got a bunch of other signs I’ve seen along the way as I’ve been behind the wheel – feel free to have some fun with the signs on your way to work, on the way home and when you’re exploring new places. It always puts a smile on my face. Thanks for reading!
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