I am a strong believer in fate, karma and signs.
I think we are put on this Earth by a higher power for a reason. The beauty is the journey to figure out that reason.
Sometimes, the journey is a bust. There's prison, or an early death in a tragic accident, or goals unfulfilled for whatever reason.
But that failure affects others. People work at the prisons and make a good living for themselves and their families. Doctors and nurses treat the victims and help them get better. Some accidents motivate others to be more careful. Other busts inspire beautiful poetry, a touching song or even a newspaper column that might make someone else happy.
So, Kohler, you old windbag, what are you getting at?
I believe God is very busy with this beautiful mess we call Earth, and he works in mysterious ways. He gives us signs and signals, hoping that we can work it out on our own.
Signs can come in many different forms: Birth, death, near-misses, job changes, the end of relationships, friends drifting apart, a Garmin GPS or Tim Tebow.
In those, the strong and positive folks among us see them as new beginnings. You know the old saying: one door closes, another one opens.
On Monday, I was cranky. Like Mr. Grinch kind of cranky. Like a bear-with-a-sore-behind kind of cranky. Like my-fantasy-football-team-lost-by-10-lousy-points-in-the-playoffs kind of cranky.
I was impatient and loud to my daughter, mean to a good friend, grumpy and sullen with my wife, impatient with my mother and generally morose to people at the eye doctor, the gym and work.
I was as cuddly as a cactus. I was feeling sorry for myself and felt like the world owed me a favor.
The reasons were plenty and justified in my mind. Not that the most important people in my life deserved to be treated poorly. Of course not, but in my thought pattern, I guess I wanted people to know subconsciously that I was having a bad day.
Life sucked. I prayed for a sign. You know, one of those "Wag More, Bark Less" signs that I got last year.
Then I got the sign. Actually, it was a couple of signs.
On the way to work, a Dodge pickup inexplicably turned in front of me when I had the right of way. It was one of those slow-motion things that your eyes see in high-definition clarity while our amazing minds try to tell you how to react.
I stomped on the brakes and the dude — who looked much like me except for the Carhart, a full beard and a Mossy Oak ballcap — steered back into his lane as we missed each other by less than a foot. I could have reached out and changed the channel on his radio.
Wow, I thought. That was close. Of course, I likely wouldn't have perished, but that would have seriously made my day worse, and could have landed me or Mr. Mossy Oak in the hospital.
Later, as I talked to my wife about how miserable I was earlier, she reminded me of how lucky I was. God was working on me again.
Two good signs so close to Christmas. I needed a sign to remind me of the blessings that I have.
One of my favorite columns was one I wrote a couple of years ago about how important the little things are: from little girls asking their Dads to eat lunch with them at school to a simple thank you between coworkers and opening the door for someone at the post office.
As I reflected while writing this, I thought of all the things I had to be thankful for, and all the positive signs that have come my way in 2011.
It's not that way for everyone, and I felt ashamed of my Grinch-like behavior Monday. I thought of all the people alone for the holidays, those who are sick or unemployed, or working on Christmas (like me) or who have lost a loved one recently.
I hope they get their sign — whether it's this Christmas or sometime early next year.
Most of us are extremely fortunate to have so many good things in our lives. I've always been a glass-half-full kind of guy and perhaps a few signs the past couple of months are just what the doctor ordered to help remind me.
I hope you get your sign.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for an even better 2012.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow Tri-State news on Twitter at @HMinWV or HMinPA.