Gotta stop and the smell the roses.
It’s funny how much that metaphor has come up the last few years of my life. Although, when I use that metaphor it’s usually more a paraphrase that comes out to the effect of “we don’t really have time to smell the roses,” or maybe something to the effect of, “all right smell them, but just take a quick whiff because we gotta keep going.”
Sometimes, I wonder where these metaphors come from. Was there was some fable about a great warrior who was on a mission and his mentor, or maybe funny sidekick, would give him long monologues about how it’s all about the journey and not the destination and they should take the time to stop and smell the roses before they continue on their journey? It often makes me want to drift over to Google to find out. Then I realize I don’t have time to stop and smell the dang roses, let alone research their origin story.
Nevertheless, it’s a phrase that’s popped up in my head a lot lately. I feel like each year, my plate gets more and more full. Granted, when it comes to work, a lot of it is because of the year’s previous work with grants and programs. I’ve essentially created more work for myself with the previous works I’ve done.
Everything is perspective I suppose. I could look at the glass half empty and say that I am reaping what I sowed … or, I could look at the glass half full and say that I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor.
I must apologize for all of the metaphors, but you have to understand that if I didn’t use these cutesy and inspiring metaphors, I’d probably just be saying it’s been a long, cold and overwhelming busy winter and, gosh darn, am I exhausted.
The early bird gets the worm just sounds a lot less whiney and packs much more of a positive punch then “my body hurts, I think I slept two hours last night and I can barely pull myself out of bed, but there are three deadlines and four meetings today that I can’t miss, and I have to get Kid One to school and Kid Two’s bed ready because he comes home from surgery tomorrow.”
So yes, I do try to keep a positive outlook on life while I’m on a runaway train going 90 miles per hour, while juggling three chainsaws on that are fire, the smell of roses don’t even register on the C list of priorities.
I do know that I’m far from the only person who gets into this headspace as life starts going really fast. Recently, a colleague of mine’s father passed away. His family lives down South and he’s been trying to navigate the memorial service arrangements from afar, while navigating the rest of his life up here. Despite my lack of available time, I offered to put together a memorial slide show for him as I’ve done far too many in my life. I know that I’m pretty quick at whipping those together and also understand having something like that taken off of my colleague’s plate can take a lot of extra stress off.
He scanned photos of photos from his father’s life (in chronological order to save me some time), and gave me a scan disk that also featured several of his father’s favorite songs to add to them. As I slid photos into the digital timeline and put appropriate music over them, as well as adding some pan-and-zoom effects, I found myself getting emotional at a man I have never even met. I always usually do to some extent when I do these memorial slide shows. When I was finished I sat back and watched this man’s life — and how long of a life it was. Early photos from childhood, photos from a military career, a wedding, children, grandchildren, the golden years.
What struck me most was despite all these different shades of faded photos and different eras were the same people around him. Watching his friends, brothers and children grow together side by side through various eras was a beautiful thing. It made me sit back and breathe for a moment. It was a hard reminder that this moment isn’t forever. This moment isn’t what life is all about. Far from it.
So, maybe there is no time to stop and smell the roses, but I think it’s important to make the time, not only to smell the roses, but to remember where you started your journey and why you decided to take that journey that you pass roses along the way in the first place.
Brian S. Millett is a project manager for the city of Eureka and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.