When is the last time you studied a sign and thought, “Nah, I’m not going there.” By definition, road signs exist to direct us. Detour. No Left Turn. One Way. Do Not Enter. Road Closed. Under Construction. Human beings, by definition, make their own decisions. We read the sign, evaluate our options, predict some sort of future outcome (correct or incorrect), and off we go. I faced that situation recently, and when it was all over, I was glad I followed the sign.
When you approach Presque Isle Park, a tiny bit of an island north of Marquette, Michigan, it appears to be a sand pancake with some trees on it. Nondescript and frumpy, it has a tiny one-way road that circles the perimeter of the island. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the circle. Unless, of course, you choose to follow the signs.
Driving slowly on a skinny paved lane through the middle of dense forest, I saw a sign that read, “Lookout.” I glanced to my right and observed a narrow, short path winding through the underbrush, leading to edge of the island. There was a small turnout for cars. I wondered what I would possibly see that I hadn’t already seen whilst approaching Presque Isle: Lake Superior (a big lake), sand, waves, and a medium grey sky. Hardly inspirational. I studied the path for a moment longer, and made my decision. It would take me two seconds to check it out. I pulled over, grabbed my camera, and hopped out of my car.
Instantly, I was surrounded by vicious, man eating bugs. “Look Out for Man-Eating Mosquitoes, the sign should say,” I muttered to myself, swatting at the pterodactyl-sized insects.
I reached the edge of the trees, felt the strong lake winds shove me back. I steadied myself, looked to my left, and gasped. The view was unbelievable. This was no wimpy pile of sand! I was standing on a cliff, 150 feet above the lake. Angry waves that had traveled unchecked for 70 miles pounded the beautiful, jagged, multi-colored rock formations. Orphaned trees fought to survive in difficult conditions. This perspective of Presque Isle was entirely hidden from my view as I approached. Consequently, I’d completely misjudged the coastal terrain along the northern part of the island (there is a lesson in that, isn’t there?)
I began to shoot. And shoot. And shoot. I discovered one amazing detail after another. The air was invigorating, the sky was changing, and I could hear thunder rumbling about in the distance. I felt immersed in energy! I didn’t want to leave. On the other hand, what other hidden treasures remained yet to be discovered? I returned to my car, and continued slowly around the island.
I stopped anytime I saw a path that looked “interesting” (no sign required this time!) and followed it to completion. I was never sorry, and discovered multiple marvelous vistas. I lost a pint of blood to the vampire beasts (I swell up big time from mosquitoes. One bit me by the corner of my right eye and it looked like someone had punched me!) but it was worth it. I also got some GREAT SHOTS which I will share in future blogs. Eventually, the storm arrived, and I was forced to seek safe haven in my car. I look forward to going back in the fall (Presque Isle Park is about an 8 hour drive from my town, on the road that eventually leads to my brother’s home out on the Keweenaw Peninsula.)
So. Fast forward to today. There is actually a point in this post that extends beyond photography. I believe that the universe offers up road signs as we travel through life. Perhaps they are not quite as obvious as the example above, but they exist nonetheless.
Six weeks ago I received an unexpected work email. In a nutshell, it said that I should start thinking about retiring from my company. They would “help me” by offering me a package: I could work three days a week at a reduce salary and use the other two days to figure out what I would do when I grow up (and retire.) If I participated in the program, I would have to retire on or before December 31, 2015. I looked at it, astonished.
Was it true? (It was.)
Should I take it? (Can you afford a cut in pay? Do you have the discipline to work on a new business the other two days? Conversely, do you have the discipline to cut back on your company work – a bigger problem for me, frankly.)
Who is in charge of your life? (I am!)
Could I take it? (Ask your boss – he has the right to say yes or no!)
It was a sign in the sense that it pointed to a new direction, different from the current career path I was on or expected to be on.
I thought about it. Reduced salary versus free time to shape my dream – being a Success Architect and building winning teams. Right now, when I work on my dream, it is late at night, vacation days, or on weekends. And I’ve done that for a long, long time. It’s a slow boat, as they say.
I looked out over the horizon of my future. I could continue to work fulltime for several more years (the safe choice), or I could transition into my preferred career (the risky choice) – investing in what I do best, have a passion for, and have been put on this Earth to do! Need I tell you what decision was best for me?
I followed the sign. I applied for the program, my boss and I discussed it (thank goodness he supported me – I am grateful!) and I found out ten days ago that it was a done deal.
This week I will work 3 days for my Day Job, and 2 days for my Dream Job. Two full weekdays for me to focus on building my Dream Job! WHAT A GIFT! Yes, I will cut back on spending. Yes, it’s the road less traveled. Yes, there is some risk and uncertainty. But it’s my DREAM! If I can’t find the wherewithal to invest in my dreams, what is the point of being here? Dreams are road signs, too! I’m excited to share this news with you, my trusted and loyal readers! What do you think?
Call to Action: Observe the road signs in your life. See them, read them, consider them, and consciously make the choices that are best for you.
Today, my personal road sign reads: Desired Future Under Construction!
What does your personal road sign look like? Onward!
~ Maureen (Ideation * Strategic * Learner * Achiever * Individualization * Maximizer) (forgive me if you get two of these – lesson learned – don’t watch a baseball game and post a blog at the same time!) :-)