Sometimes we ignore the SMALL CUES along the way until there is a BIG WARNING SIGN.  What would life be like if we were more in tune to those inklings, tips and reminders in our everyday lives?

Today I was reminded of a story that a wise man once told a group of people.

The story goes like this.  

The man was driving to a gathering at a friend’s home.  The friend lived a ways outside of the city and the man was unfamiliar with the route.

These were the (not so long ago) days before gps, so the man diligently wrote down the directions his friend relayed to him, consulted his Rand McNally road atlas and was on his way.

It was a clear, sunny day and the man was enjoying the drive.  He let his thoughts wander and was thinking more about the week ahead than the road ahead.

Not in an unsafe way, just not taking in all of his surroundings.

The man carried on like this for some time.

The man was not concerned with the minutes that were ticking by.  He expected the drive to take a while.

Then it hit him.

The BIG warning sign. 


The man lived in Ohio and his friend did live about an hour away, southwest of his own rural home on the other side of Cincinnati.

But his friend certainly did not live in another state.

Not even close.

It was several miles until the next exit.  So the man kept going in the wrong direction a little while longer.

Eventually the man was able to turn around and get himself back on track.  Albeit he was now thirty odd miles past his exit.

The man spent the next 30 minutes paying close attention to his surroundings.

The man noticed something very interesting during those 30 miles he spent retracing his path.

He noticed how many small cues he had missed along the way.

Signs that had the number of miles to Indianapolis listed.

Signs with exit numbers well beyond the one he was meant to take.

The view of a restaurant he had been to before and knew was past his friend’s home.

The merging of two highways that was not on his original route.

So many small cues missed along the way. 

Now this man has a pleasant disposition and is very relaxed.  I imagine that this type of thing does not happen too often in his life.

Being true to his character, after this misstep occurred the man chose to do three good things.

  • First, the man chose to notice his exit on the way back and proceeded to have a wonderful afternoon with his friends.
  • Second, the man chose to look at this experience as a reminder to look at the small cues in his life, cues that could send him in the right direction. Cues that would allow for pivots rather than drastic course redirections.
  • Third, the man chose to share this story with hundreds of other people. Openly sharing his mistake with the intent of helping others to avoid missing important cues in their lives.

Just as easily, the man could have gone home feeling frustrated, angry and embarrassed.

And if he had done that he would have missed out on a wonderful afternoon with his friends, would have missed other important cues, and missed out on an opportunity to help others notice important reminders in their lives.

So to this man, I say thank you. 

Thank you for choosing joy.

Thank you for learning from your mistake.

Thank you for sharing your story.

This week, let’s all choose to recognize the gentle reminders that are all around us.


Giving credit where credit’s due:

Who is this wise man?  His name is Father O.  He told this story during a homily several years ago.  I must have been about 8 years old when I heard it.  So I may have mixed up some of the facts, but the message remains unchanged.  And it clearly had a lasting impact if I can still recall it in such detail today.

This story is one of those things that I haven’t thought about in years.  It popped into my head for seemingly no other reason than it just wanted to be retold.

It’s funny how some things just stick with us, resurfacing when we least expect them to.

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