Stop and Smell
Updated: Apr 28
In Tami Hoag’s book, Deeper Than the Dead, FBI agent Vince Leone says: “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” Vince is pointing out the fact that often people are so concerned with figuring out and scheming for future possibilities that the present moment passes by unnoticed. And those present moments often contain joy and meaning that are missed.
Jimmy had an all-consuming desire to be prepared for anything. He had a job that kept him busy eight hours a day, but even then his thoughts were generally focused on his post-work activities. Jim’s primary concern was the coming breakdown of society when survival would depend on self-sufficiency born of adequate preparation. Building an underground bunker, stockpiling foodstuffs and other bodily necessities, drilling a deep well, installing world-class security barriers, acquisition of and training in the use of firearms, etc. At the end of years of plotting, organizing, building, accumulating, and training he was surprised that his children had grown up and left home. When he felt that everything was finally in place, when he was ready for whatever might happen, he died.
This scenario is an extreme one, but it illustrates the principle: we all too often set our sights so far ahead that the present slips by with nary a notice. Several years ago Greater Good Magazine published an article about a Rutgers University study titled, A Scientific Reason to Stop and Smell the Roses with subheadline, “A new study suggests people are happier when they take time to appreciate the good things in life.” Stop and smell the roses might be a trite adage, but it’s one that can be set on the backburner for so long that one forgets how to do it.
My adult daughter and I were walking through a north Phoenix housing complex when we came across a home with a 30-foot long bed of roses along one side of the house. The multi-variety of blossoms were at the height of their bloom, and it looked like a rainbow had planted itself. We got on our hands and knees to eyeball and sniff each specimen. All of a sudden we looked at each other and exclaimed in unison: “Hey, we stopped to smell the roses.” It was glorious.