Friday, June 24, 2011


So two of the kids and I were running a last minute errand.  Okay, I was running off to work to get a couple of books I wanted to peruse in the next week.  There has been road construction on a main drag near work for the past 15 months - part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

So we get to the intersection where it is particularly bad; I avoid it at all costs during the day.  I notice that it looks like they may be repaving this part of the road again.  Then we see the oddest sign as we wait at the light.  It's a new sign; it wasn't there in the afternoon when I was going home.


It's flashing toward the traffic coming down the other road into the intersection; the road they're working on.  We talk about the sign - slow down elm-f.  Slow down elf.  We start to laugh.  I pull forward as far as I safely can. Still we see "SLOW DOWN ELMF".  What does it mean?  What the heck is an "elmf"? 

The light turns green and we move through the intersection.  And we see it.  "SLOW DOWN BUMP".  We were missing the right hand side of the letters on the last word.  From our perspective we could not see the whole picture.  We could see most of it, but since we couldn't see it all we were left to guess and couldn't even get close.

Wonderful teaching opportunity.  The youngest and oldest were with me.  We talked about how when you can't see the whole picture you can jump to a conclusion that's wrong.  Or as in our case you may not even have a clue as to what's going on.

A few yards down the road it dawns on me.  I can't see the whole picture.  I can't even see most of it all the time.  All I know is my little piece and that is all I have to work with.  This is oddly freeing.  I may be seeing ELMF with regard to being gay and married to a woman.  But a decade ago I couldn't even see that there was a sign let alone that there might be a message on it. 

Next month or next year, if I continue to do the work and remain on the journey, I may see a little more of the sign.  I may discover a missing part that changes how I view things.  Like this sign told us, there will inevitably be bumps on the road.  When there are I will slow down to navigate safely, but keep moving in the best direction I can make out with the partial picture I can see at that time.

But all I can do is respond to the picture that I currently see.

1 comment:

  1. You're an amazing writer.... what great analogy!! I thought of my gayness as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I was shown a very few pieces in my teens and twenties... By the time I was in my early 40s, those few pieces turned into an avalanche.