If you’ve ever driven into downtown Toronto via the Gardiner Expressway East, or out of the city going west on the same road, you’ve probably seen a blue and pink Inglis billboard (or a washer/dryer billboard on the other side). You may have also been inspired to live a better life because of this same billboard, if you’ve ever read the messages that flash on and off just below this billboard.
It’s not that the advertisements on either side of this billboard provide inspiration, but there are actual “tickers” that somebody has been using to spread messages of love, peace, motivation, and once a year for a few weeks, happy holidays. I don’t know who has been inputting these messages into the outdated display — it’s a classic rectangle full of big lightbulbs straight from the 70s as opposed to a gigantic fancy colour LED screen — but that person has guided me through some tough decisions and trains of thought in my life, and I wish I could thank them.
I often let my thoughts wander while I drive. (Don’t worry, I’m a safe driver, and I am always aware of my surroundings and fellow drivers, but maybe not necessarily the exit that I didn’t realize I missed a kilometre back.) It’s usually a time of solitude; just me and my music and the road to my destination. Before I moved to Toronto, I came to the city for significant events: auditions, rehearsals, shows, shopping sprees, parties, visiting friends, etc. And on the trip into the city, my nervousness and/or excitement would often be bolstered or put into perspective by this billboard. On the way out, it would give me perspective again, giving me words to live by and to think about and almost in direct relation to the event I just attended. And in my state of solitude (and often after an event, adrenaline-fuelled heightened awareness) my mind is running a mile a minute, but still in a very open state, which would make that billboard even more effective.
But who cares? It’s just a billboard, right? Sure it is, if that’s all your eyes tell you. But if you’re open to the universe, and the significance of coincidences, then suddenly it becomes a message board of hope, a beacon of inspiration, and a confirmation of self-confidence. And if you’re open enough to let a few words on a billboard send your mind into a journey of reflection, then there’s no reason why you can’t let your own inner voice do the same. (Just make sure you’re being your own friend.)
Last night, I told you that small gestures can have great significance. Imagine what a few words can do to an open heart.