The woman falls off the cliff.
The man falls into the water.
-- Mary Schmich, 'The Chicago Tribune', January 2014
Two deaths: thousands of miles apart, within hours of each other. The woman, 25, and the man, 26, both tried to capture the perfect Kodak moment, and yet, with iPhone irony, couldn't see the clear and present dangers right in front of their own eyes.
The other day, in unfamiliar territory south of the Thames, I was walking while reading loads of info on my phone. Engrossed in the map, plus an email instructing me to 'continue to the big church', what had I seen of my surroundings? 'Continue to the big church'. Hmmm. Without slowing my stride, I quickly looked ahead of me, then behind. No church. So, back to the phone I went for 'info' when all I needed to do was stop and really look. I had been walking alongside it!
In one of the news stories about the deaths, a police officer was quoted as saying there were warning signs — "Beware of Cliffs" -- where the woman fell. How many times have we failed to see the signs? And signs don't have to be of the "Warning" and "Unstable Cliffs" varieties. Signs can come in the form of symbols, sounds, words -- written or spoken -- and even numbers. They can offer clues and guidance on the trajectory of our life, once we actually start to see them.