Stop and smell the roses

100_0876One thing that longevity gives you, as time passes, is the invaluable perspectives you can take on metaphors. The title of this piece is enriched with so much metaphorical value that seems to be triggered, for me, when I experience certain things. One can be weighted down with many troubles of the world: health issues, family issues, political shenanigans of all sorts, and just plain stuff that makes life an overwhelming challenge at times. But, then something happens.

I’ve been dealing with some sort of respiratory issue for the last seven days or so. I don’t want to sound too disgusting; however, some amount of detail is warranted here for you to get the picture. Mucus has been flowing nonstop. I’m exhausted from using tissue. Is that enough detail? I had to make a run to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for some eye drops I use to regulate the pressure in my left eye, which suffers from early stage Glaucoma. It’s July 31, 10:30 in the morning. When I stepped outside, the weather was beautiful. Normally, in Arkansas, during this time of year, the thermometer is fast approaching the mid-nineties. This morning greeted me with a temperature of seventy-seven and a nice cool breeze that gently caressed what would normally be a sweat drenched body. Rather than instinctively switching on the air conditioning in my car, I rolled down the windows and took it all in. In other words, this was a “smell the roses” moment that I couldn’t let pass without some thankful notice.

This thankful moment ushered me into thinking that life presents countless opportunities for us to “smell the roses”. Do we always avail ourselves of these moments? Do we ponder, meditate, soak in what’s been put in our path? I’ll speak for myself here, I don’t. (Come on, you probably don’t either.) There was one other thing that happened this morning that made me feel particularly joyful in my brief run to the pharmacy. I had had a conversation with my oldest daughter earlier. A conversation, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. She was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, early stage. Her oncologist saw no need for surgery but did prescribe a regimen of low dose chemotherapy and radiation. Now there are two of us in the family fighting the “Big C”. Now, my daughter can identify. Not to be critical of the rest of my family, whom I’m certain loves me deeply. The truth is you must walk closely to another person to even approach full understanding of what they’re traversing. My daughter is walking beside me now, treading nervously through waves of chemotherapy and side effects in her early steps. I’m convinced she’ll walk well, as her faith in God carries her when she feels as though she can’t walk. She’ll discover moments when “smelling the roses” will be unavoidable. You might ask me, where’s the joy in that? Believe me, it’s there. It’s not in the fact that she has cancer, but in knowing her faith will allow her to see numerous “smell the roses” moments.

I recently had a major “smell the roses” experience that I’ll never forget. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a big fan of Anita Baker. Her sultry style of delivering the words to a song has always been captivating. This year I turned sixty-eight. My daughter, the fellow cancer patient, bought concert tickets and arranged lodging in a nice Airbnb in St. Louis for Chris and me to see Anita. What made it an even more a “smell the roses” experience was that the concert was on my birthday. Birthdays themselves are great “smell the roses” experiences for me, as God blesses me with more time to grow, and I hope to become wiser and closer to Him. This was my sixty-eight birthday, two weeks after the death of my mother. Even her death, a tragically sad event to say the least, gave me opportunity to retrospectively smell all the roses she brought into my life.

As you walk through this life, I recommend you keep your proverbial sense of smell (mental and emotional) on strong alert so you can smell, and soak in all the good stuff that’s placed before you. I dare say its positioning isn’t happenstance.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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