I got to ride my old bike tonight on my favorite run around Draper Lake, thanks to a generous friend! I forgot how much I loved my evening rides in the summer, from wildlife sightings to the varying temperature currents and fragrances that one can really only experience on a motorcycle. Tonight I had a special treat – in my rearview mirror I could see the fading remnants of a brilliant pink sunset, and in front of me was the reflective yellow ribbon leading to a bright “blue” moon rising over the lake.
These past few months as we prepare to go to Africa have been bittersweet and filled with moments we treasure as the “last” we’ll have in quite a while. Especially in this last month, I’ve felt in a flurry to say goodbye to family and friends I won’t see again for a long time, or for some, not until we meet again on the other side. Last night I celebrated what is probably my last meeting with my good friends from SHOUT – young women who have heroically battled cancer in the middle of juggling careers and young families. We talked about how we’ve changed since our diagnosis, and nearly all will say cancer was in some ways a blessing…it forced us to examine our lives to see what really matters and taught us to cherish the time we have together, to make the best of every moment. A message we commonly share with others is the importance “not to sweat the small stuff” and to “take time to smell the roses.”
I think that’s part of why I loved to ride so much. For just a little while, time stood still and I was alone with my thoughts. I became a philosopher, an explorer, and a mental journalist. In fact I would have been a much more prolific blogger if I could have somehow recorded the deep musings on my journeys! But most importantly, it was a time I could be thoroughly engaged in the moment and completely experience the joy of life. I loved the rumble of the engine, the wind on my face, and as tonight, the incredible fragrances that shifted from musky woodlands to sweet meadows to earthy fresh-tilled soil.
Tonight I realized how much smell is integrated into my experiences, and is one of the many mental snapshots I’m taking as I say farewell to America. A couple of months ago I was back in the Ozarks, and took deep nostalgic whiffs of the oak woods I spent so much time in camping and hiking. When we were in the mountains last week, I stopped to take in the crisp morning air saturated with the smell of pine and listen to the haunting whisper as the wind blew through the treetops. The banks of the creek were fresh and earthy as the water rushing over the rocks sang to me. I passed through a meadow filled with beautiful purple mountain lupines with an intoxicating fragrance backlit by the brilliant white glaciers of Mt. Rainier. I feel my life is so much richer for these experiences.
Whoever first said to take time to smell the roses was so wise. This requires us to break from the hustle and bustle long enough to not only notice beauty, but to also step a little closer to explore and take a deep breath to soak in everything that moment has to offer. It’s amazing how peaceful and content one can feel after just a simple pause. So take a reminder from my survivor friends, and be sure to pause for a moment to experience life to its fullest!