For centries many cultures believed in signs. For example native American Indians viewed all things (living and dead) as having a spirit and a meaning. Listening to the signs was an integral part of Indian life. I have never tried this out for myself, though on many occasions I experienced a deep feeling, call it intuition, that the universe did carry small parcels of messages in strangers I met along the way, inanimate objects that just happened to turn up at the right time and nature.
Last year while a holiday with two great friends and in need of emotional healing, I set off on a morning hike with the explicit intention to have nature provide me with signs or put it another way, I opened my mind and heart to let whatever came speak to me. I vowed to pay attention and accept anything that showed up which my mind noticed on my journey. The trek turned out many magical signs indeed. I brought some paper and pen so that I would write them down and what I felt they meant. Later, back at the lodge, I wrote up a summary and read it to my two friends, tears strolling down my cheeks coming to terms with a loss and finding hope and inner strength to get through life with faith and belief that love always prevails.
Couple of days ago, I repeated the exercise, having arrived to a lovely prairie of Cornwall – it’s how the locals talk about Coverack. A tiny but absolutely gorgeous cove on the Lyzard peninsula, Coverack is both remote and amazingly peaceful. Life here moves at a different pace entirely. The beach reveals itself only around ten am after you had a chance to have some coffee and maybe even breakfast. A few folks still swim in the water which is actually pretty good temperature. Though, conveniently, I forgot my swimming suit I have managed to dip my toes and legs in the sea twice since my arrival.
But this blog is about my experience of signs. So, what were the signs that showed up for me on this journey of openness to receive? The first sign was a black and white dog playing on the shore of the sea. His name, as I found out from the owner, was Bobby. Bobby was very jolly and his joy and play reminded me of the simplicity of life and the need to give into it and enjoy it in every moment. I arrived heavy hearted to the retreat but there was nothing to be done about that. Staying in the present moment and enjoying the sunshine and the peacefulness of the cove was honoring the present moment and Bobby was my reminder of that. In coaching world we talk a lot about resistance and responsiveness. Working with the flow of life or against it. Bobby was responsive and his lightness and fun was inviting me to do the same. I smiled and was grateful for the invitation.
My next sign came few hours later in the form of two large stuffies in a lovely local café where I had a Cornish scone and cream. I have a particular fondness for them and a recent memory of a special scone party I shared with one of the most dearest people in my life. But nothing beats locally baked Cornish scones. They are very tasty and mine came as a reward to a successful morning’s day of work on my next book. The two giant cuddly stuffies were in shape of giant dogs perched around one of the tables. I wasn’t sitting there very long when a young couple came in with two children. The lady of the house took both stuffies and set them down next to their little boy who was maybe four or five years old and in need of entertainment. She told him about their respective names and that they wished to keep him company but that they had already eaten their big meal so he shouldn’t feed them. It was pure magic. The stuffies transformed a crying, angry boy into a calm little angel with a smile. For me, the two dog toys were a sign of love and cuddles we all need in life not just as kids but also as adults. For a moment, I wished I was that boy and then immediately my thoughts went to someone else in my life that I wish had such a toy right now. Sometimes people in our lives are so in need of love they can be blind to it being present on other people. Stuffies are safer. They can’t talk back or offer a counter argument. They are just there. The stuffies reminded me about the humanity of people everywhere and their need to feel loved and cherished. Sometimes the fear of having found such love and/or the fear of not deserving it can make people do strange and hurtful things. The sign reminded me that while we can love deeply, each of us has to learn to face love with courage and trust we have for a stuffy toy. Courage to trust that love others express for us won’t hurt us for it would be hurting itself too.
My third sign came to me while I returned to work on my book in the cabin. A lovely bird whose name I don’t know, had been hanging out on my patio all morning and this afternoon he ventured into my living room space. Totally cheeky you might think and very courageous. The bird chose to come in on its own giving me the gift of his presence. I only noticed him when from a corner of my eye I spied a rather big black object dotting happily around the living room carpet. The presence of this little bird reminded me of my old mentor who told me that to enjoy a butterfly one should never cup one’s hands. To me the presence of this bird in my living space symbolized the deep need for respect of other people and their choices: our ability to enjoy what we can share with others without forcing or controlling the moment in any way. As adults, we are constantly making choices that are the best choices for us. This bird felt like nature’s way of reminding me about the reward one can obtain for letting go and allowing things to come on their own terms when they wish to do so. A difficult and painful lesson to learn when what we often want is to hold on to something or someone we love very much. For love to work a person has to feel and be wanted above everything else. Love is a complete surrender. Half open hearts need not apply.
The fourth sign in my awareness for the day was the ever changing Cornish sky. If you have ever been to Cornwall, you will know that one can have sun and rain four or five times in a given day. This was certainly true on this day as the sky went from overcast to sunny every half hour. The ever-changing nature of the sky reminded me about the cyclical nature of life: the ups and downs that we go through and the acceptance and faith that is needed inside us to face the clouds and believe that sunshine will come at some stage. It is a total process of Faith. A difficult but important lesson to learn.
My final sign was a flower bee, buzzing about collecting nectar from the flowers on the patio. The bee whizzed around from one flower to another that would give it what it needed, never failing to honor its purpose which is to pollinate flowers and collect food. The bee’s actions reminded me about the power of practicing detachment with love: a way to let everything come and go in life as it is never ours to keep. The bee reminded me about a famous tale that talks about a man that discovers that everything he has on earth has been on loan to him to enjoy but which he can never take with him. In the story, the man wakes up each morning grateful to God that he still has his precious possessions and enjoys them with complete absorption each moment knowing they may not be there the next day. If you have a person in your life who showers you with that level of gratitude, you are truly lucky. In the meantime, tell someone in your life how lucky you are because of their presence in your life.
This bee was that sign for me. A sign of gratitude. A sing of reminder that people come and go from our lives on their own paths to collect nectar for their life. We can enjoy their beauty and company for as long as that’s meant to be before they decide to take off again. Occasionally, they may choose to stay around for a lifetime in a form of best friends and loving partners and that’s incredibly special. A true mystery of life. Someone I care deeply about told me that soul mates are many. I disagree. I think as one goes through life, there comes a time when a person comes along what is a very special someone – a true soul mate. It’s as if you and this person’s energy came from the same source and you manage to find each other in spite of the apparent randomness of life. When you’re lucky to find them do what you can to treasure and cherish them for as long as you have together. Honour them and make them your priority. Life is terribly short in the scheme of things and those people are far more important than jobs, careers and personal plans that will isolate you from the best part of yourself.
If you would like to try a similar exercise, you may wish to get a copy of my book, Get Productive. In it, you will find an exercise called Random Walk which is very similar to what I write about in this blog. In the book you will find many short, practical and simple to do exercises to help you figure out what’s truly important, what you really want to say to the world around you and to help you gain strength. I wish you peace and success in whatever you do.