As I sit at the dining room table looking out the window, I am thinking about words and symbols. It is raining outside, the grass is bright green from all the April showers and between the bushes and a tree I stop a common symbol with a simple four letter word stamped upon it “STOP”. It is the stop sign at the end of our street. A stop sign, one of the first rules of the road. It is a cautionary sign, a symbol warning danger possible, a symbol saying you do not have the right of way. Four letters and eight sides’ two simple colors, convey so much to everyone who has or will ever drive. We think we all know what that sign means yet could there be more?
To a mother who lost their child at that intersection that stop sign means death. It is a reminder of the car which did not stop and the driver who ploughed on through. To the teenager who had thought they perfected the “rolling stop” it is a reminder that someone us always watching. To the worker who dug the hole and tightened the screws it is simply just another day at work.
We believe we know what symbols and words mean, after all there is only one meaning right? Just as each snowflake varies so too can every person’s understanding and experience of a symbol or word vary.
Be aware, notice how you perceive a symbol or a word and ask a friend or neighbor their interpretation. You just might find a new definition.