Perhaps the four most dangerous words in any language -- show me a sign. The few times I have been daring -- or desperate -- enough to utter them, a sign has been shown.
Take last week for example. For over a decade I have had a good job at a great company with an altruistic mission -- competitive pay, great benefits, talented and wonderful colleagues and friends. But while the bottom tiers of Maslow's hierarchy of needs were solid, the upper layers, particularly the pinnacle of self-actualization, had steadily been falling into disrepair. In fact, I was struggling daily to keep from losing my enthusiasm -- and I am a firm believer that without enthusiasm, nothing excellent ever emerges.
So in that vague space between wakefulness and sleep, when I tend to have a running dialog with my Higher Power, I found myself muttering, "If you have bigger plans for me, you are probably going to have to get me laid off, because I'm kinda stuck...."
And I promptly fell asleep.
When I arrived at the office the next day, I found I'd been invited to a cryptically titled meeting with my manager (Brief one-on-one) and I immediate thought to retract my request from the previous night -- but then I stopped. I said to myself, "It is what it is. If I'm supposed to be doing something else, then so be it..."
As promised, the meeting was brief: reduction in workforce, your position is eliminated, yada, yada, yada.
The first hour following the announcement was a definite downer as my mind totaled and re-totaled mortgage, rents, student loans, parent loans, and loans yet to come. But once the clacking of the imaginary adding machine began to fade, I could feel a load like a lead smock (like you wear at the dentist's office) being lifted. the clouds of pessimism parting, and two roads diverging in a yellow wood.
(Hey, cut me some slack on the self-indulgent purple prose -- I just got laid off, for Pete's sake! :-))
So that was the first sign. As if one were not enough, a second, even more unmistakable sign occurred, dispelling once and for all any lingering shadows of doubt.
I was asleep and my phone buzzed on the nightstand. I fumbled frantically to find my glasses, expecting as always the worst, some catastrophe or desperate plea from a frightened friend in need. I grabbed the phone, gazed at the screen. At first I thought it was a dream -- a mashup of two things I've been obsessed with for as long as I can remember. I sat up, blinked a few more times, squinted, and looked again.
It was not a dream.
It was a second sign.
Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. :-)