Graphic by Sam Cochron ’24

Hello Told You So,

I have a serious query. In my life, I’m always looking for signs to point me in the right direction. Lately, everything seems like a sign: a falling leaf, a beautiful butterfly, an interestingly shaped cloud. This mode of thinking, while romantic and hopeful, also tends to make me sad when a falling leaf turns out only to be a sign of the changing season rather than something highly specific and personal to my life. How do you recommend dealing with the crushing disappointment of reality?

Thank you!

~Sleepless in Seattle 

Dear Sleepless, 

Hmm. What a query –– one most of us would avoid asking, and yet here you are asking it. 

It seems like the biggest problem in your life is not having one. And honestly, I can’t fault you for that. When nothing is happening, looking for signs of excitement in the world around you might potentially make sense. However, be mindful of your perspective. Our readers highly encourage the positive outlook of embracing meaninglessness. It’s truly freeing to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you and that random events are mostly just that — random. You have no control over them, and they have no control over you. For example, the fact that it rained for the only 10 minutes you decided to go for a run doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run again. But also, it is fair to ask: why were you trying to run in the first place? 

Maybe signs do mean something, but you are just not paying attention. Maybe reality isn’t disappointing, and the problem is you. 

Apologies for the tough love; it seems that your question might have really struck a chord. 

Personally, I at Told You So choose to embrace the chaos of existence. What is life, really, without a little bit of chaos? Some of my most loyal readers have suggested that I perhaps have a tendency to create drama when life gets even slightly monotonous or predictable. What can I say, you have to keep things exciting. That is all to say: why do you choose to attach meaning to these signs? If you find comfort in a possible predictability in this life, then I might ask why you choose to lie to yourself when the truth — the chaos — is much more fun anyway. 

Alternatively, maybe the signs do mean something. Maybe you are the center of the universe, and we are all just players in your reality, moving pawns on your chess board, figments in your imagination. 

Let’s talk for a minute about these signs you are seeing. A falling leaf — leaves fall. A beautiful butterfly — yes, most of them are. An interestingly shaped cloud — like, yes, I see one every day. I might argue that you are just looking for the wrong kind of signs.

Also, butterflies die. So…  

Instead of looking for signs on the outside, you might also choose to look within. Maybe it’s time to try some meditation, do some yoga, and really take some time for some heavy introspection. Or, for our lazier readers, just go to sleep. Those signs out in the world might not actually mean anything, but the signs in your dreams mean everything. If you really want some clue as to what is going on, look to your dreams. That’s where all the real signs are. They are a real, possibly frightening, but certainly enlightening, window into your subconscious. I would live in my dreams if I could. 

I am a little worried that this particular column might have gone a little off the rails, but I guess that happens when we begin to contemplate our existence, so thank you for that, Sleepless in Seattle. 

Always here to answer your pressing queries. 

Take care of yourself, 

Told You So