The next time you’re in a town, large or small, look around for Ghost Signs.
A Ghost Sign is a hand-painted advertising sign that’s been on a building for a long time. The colors are faded, the surface is worn, and the words have no relation to the building’s current use.
Can you make out this one?
Ghost Signs remain on buildings for a variety of reasons. Maybe the owner thinks the sign has some cool, nostalgic appeal. Or, maybe the building owner is indifferent or lazy and hasn’t gotten around to covering up the message.
I like Ghost Signs. They give a hint of the past while not interfering with the building’s current, modern use.
People have Ghost Signs too. I think of them as memories from our past that time has faded….the types of things that don’t (or shouldn’t) have any relevance to our present life other than nostalgia.
The messaging on our personal Ghost Signs can vary widely. The pink dress that your mother made you wear…when you wanted to go outside and play in pants. The bad performance evaluation at work….when your boss was blind to your brilliance and talent. The boy who got away…before putting a ring on your finger.
At the time these messages were painted on your life, they called for attention; but now looking back, their vivid colors have lost their luster.
When we apply a fresh coat of paint to our Ghost Signs, or never let them fade in the first place…we allow our past to unduly infiltrate our present. By doing this, we imply to ourselves and everyone around us that the message is still relevant and that we haven’t moved on.
I know a few people who hold on tight to irrelevant memories and blame past experiences for ruining their present-day life.
It’s not where you came from that matters most…it’s where you are now and where you’re going.
Ghost signs don’t need to be forgotten, but they should be allowed to naturally fade…by the sunbeams that enter our lives each and every day.
Do you have any faded Ghost Signs? Are there any that you continually repaint?