63: A Sign from Above

63: A Sign from Above

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

A Sign from Above

A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.

~Rita Mae Brown

I’m a born worrier. If I see a penny on the street, I always pick it up. Not for good luck, but just in case I might actually need it someday. A little paranoid? Maybe. But then, you just never know.

When it came time for me to decide where to go to college, I was stuck between two schools. I fretted, I agonized, I debated. And after carefully weighing out the pros and cons of each one, I still couldn’t see a clear choice.

One afternoon, with deadlines fast approaching and feeling like it was time to do SOMETHING, I picked up both of the acceptance letters and went into the backyard. I sat down on an old swing under the trees, and with one letter in my left hand and the other in my right, slowly swayed forward and backward. I kept staring down at those letters, without really seeing them, in a totally perplexed daze.

Finally, out of nowhere, something popped into my head.

“I wish I had a sign.”

Now let me just say, I was not then, and am not now, the sort of person who is heavily into “signs.” And that day was the first day I can remember ever thinking of any kind of sign other than the “Do Not Disturb” or “Reduced for Clearance” or “Sharp Curve Ahead” sort.

And there is something else—it wasn’t even a true thought.

Certainly, it was not a prayer. It was not even a real wish. It was more of just a passing feeling or sensation. Like, say, for instance, “root beer would be good” or “my big toe itches.” Just one tiny tick among the millions of fragments that pass through my brain everyday — most of which I’m barely conscious of, if at all.

And I wouldn’t remember this particular bit except for what happened next.

Immediately after the “I wish I had a sign” blip, something fell onto the letter in my left hand and went SPLAT smack dab in the middle of it. The “something” was the sort of “stuff” that only comes from birds. And whatever bird happened to be flying overhead at that particular moment had perfect timing—and aim.

I looked up at the sky, grinned broadly, and laughed.

“Subtle,” I said, out loud, even though no one else was present.

That’s right. That was it. That was my sign. By way of airmail. It’s not exactly a burning bush, but you take what you can get. Besides, the spontaneous combustion of shrubbery would have only sent me into a panic anyway.

After that, the decision was a cinch. I, of course, went with the school with the unbesmirched letter, and it turned out to be just fine. Also, I am forever grateful that the bird’s miraculously guided “stuff” hit that piece of paper instead of my personal self.

More than that, though, the whole episode reminded me that I tend to take stuff a little too seriously. That I should lighten up. That the “stuff” that unexpectedly falls into my life—or onto a piece of paper, if I’m lucky — is sometimes just the thing I need to get unstuck or, at the very least, have a good laugh. An indication that a change in direction or, just as importantly, perspective is needed. That the “stuff” really could be more than what it appears to be sometimes. It could be a sign from above. You just never know.

~Michelle M. Lott

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