Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Speed Limit 45. This IS Your Warning.

“Be careful. I love you.” It’s what my Dad always says when I leave the house.

On a recent road trip, I noticed an unusual speed limit sign. Instead of the customary “Speed Limit 45” out of the corner of my eye, I saw something extra. It said: “Speed Limit 45. This IS your warning.”

How interesting, I thought. A speed limit sign with a message attached. Actually, multiple messages come to mind. Today’s message relates to a lifetime of my dad’s cautionary reminders. “Be careful!” my dad always said as I rushed out the door to test my new-found driving skills at the ripe old age of 16. Now, almost 35 years later, he says “Be careful. I love you.” I realize that the “I love you” add-on is the real message. It’s not only about reflecting his fear, but also about sharing his concern and love for me when he reminds that he hopes I return from another driving road trip with all my limbs—heck, my life—intact.

Most of my life I have been aware of my dad’s cautionary nature. “Don’t trip.” “Watch out.” “Don’t drop it.” Of course, I usually did trip, or drop whatever it was I was carrying. The mental images come from the second half of message itself; instead of telling me what not to do, it might’ve been more effective if he suggested what I should do instead. The speed limit sign interests me in its reminder that I often take the common messages out there to simply be precursors to the real warnings. When we’re children, the idea of a warning system is appropriate, but as adults, it’s a challenge and a priority to kick up my attention a bit so that the familiar signs serve to be the warnings in my life, too.

My own message today is a reflective one of gratitude for my father, despite his cautionary warnings over and over in my life, on this week leading up to Father’s Day in which I honor and celebrate him. I celebrate the love that underlies the warning messages; I celebrate the care, concern and loyalty with which he always stands by his family, and I celebrate the familiar messages that include the follow-up meaning: “I love you” whether or not those precious words are actually spoken.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.

Tip of the week:
Watch out for those familiar “FOOD” messages in television commercials! If I find the commercials triggering suggestions about eating that I choose to avoid, I simply turn off the TV temporarily, or breeze through the commercials by fast-fowarding through them on pre-recorded shows.

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