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Smelling the roses

Posted in Life & Love

drinksIn the unremarkable and hectic parking lot of a Trader Joe’s, I shut off the engine to my car but sit in place. David Bowie’s Life on Mars just came on the radio and I listen, intently, singing along to the chorus, until the last of the cymbals dies down. Only then, I grab the shopping bags and make my way into the market.

I have noticed this is happening more often. No, not sitting around in random parking lots. My stopping. When I run, I let go of my thoughts and my breathing more easily, and I savor the rapid hits to my nostrils: eucalyptus, pine, bottle brush, horse shit, making a precise inventory as my sneakers pound the asphalt.

For someone who has lived most of her life in a perpetual state of movement, I don’t rush much anymore. If I see something that pleases me, I will take a detour, to the point of even breaking my lifelong tenet of never being late.

Last night, I reread an Elena Ferrante paragraph four times, unable to keep on reading until the perfection of the words had sunk in. This morning, I obsessed over a Cynthia Ozick’s sentence until all envy had melted. I notice more.

Some would say it’s a by-product of having undergone cancer. Maybe. Looking close up at the grains of sands inching, and sometimes rushing, down the bottleneck of my hourglass, realizing the sand is finite, might have given me a better measure of what is worth stopping for.
It hasn’t changed my outlook on life or propelled me to make momentous changes but, now that I feel and look myself again, I laugh more and care less.

As I write this, on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon, dogs napping at my feet, a shadow to the periphery of my right eye distracts me. I look up. A female deer is milling around my backyard: graceful, sinuous like a dancer, kind eyes, ears erect. I sit very still. I watch her sniffing the grill, picking up scents of fish and chicken, then approaching the glass sliding door. She peeks in, calmly, taking in the room, the sleeping dogs, me. After some hesitation, she moves over to the dining room window, and I get up, grab my phone and start shooting.

deerWe stare at each other, female to female. I am not going to harm her, she must know.
A puddle of her breath fogs the glass that divides us. I deliriously think what I could offer her. She looks curious, poised, at ease: in 13 years I have lived here, having observed countless families of deer, I have never encountered one willing to come this close. I am enjoying the moment, a deep enjoyment I wouldn’t have experienced if I hadn’t looked up, if I had been too focussed on the screen in front of me.

The deer lazily circles the yard once more, munches on some plants, finds the dogs’ water bowl. Finally disappears down the hillside. It paid off to stop by our house.

It pays off to stop and pause, to break the perpetual movement. For the deer. For me. Even at a time when I see the future full of promise again, when I am busy making all kinds of plans. A balancing act between using time meaningfully and stopping to smell the roses. Or the horse shit.

Top image courtesy of sissimum

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20 Comments

  1. Oh gosh, what a magically movement. So glad you were able to savor it and share it with us. ღ

    June 30, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      It really was. Will she back, I wonder? Maybe I should have offered cookies.

      June 30, 2016
      |Reply
  2. camparigirl
    camparigirl

    That is the part about growing old that sucks: we become more delicate, things go wrong more often and our mental vigor doesn’t match our physical one. Or maybe you have an intense allergy to your new place. You won’t be able to stop concerned daughters but your wife might – lean on her. And please send us news of your checking out of the hospital when you do.

    June 29, 2016
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  3. Even with so many things to do – and stressing about things that need to be done – I tend to feel better after stepping back and just having these moments of stopping. We don’t need to be constantly doing something to get somewhere. It’s good to be reminded of that

    June 29, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      🙂

      June 30, 2016
      |Reply
  4. It seems life has decided it’s horse shit for me for the time being, but you’re absolutely right: we need to stop and, if not enjoy, at least acknowledge it. These days will never happen again, and they need to cherished in this short lives of ours. Thanks for reminder.

    June 29, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      The good thing is even bad days will never be repeated. Sorry for the rough patch (love the new photo by the way).

      June 30, 2016
      |Reply
  5. You write so eloquently!!! Let go of those attachments, but still have a balance between caring too much to caring less. My life has always been go here, go there. Always going, always moving. I really have learned to slow down.
    Before I leave from work, I close all work programs, documents, and windows on my computer and only leaving youtube. Before I leave, I stop, just sit there, and listen to one song.

    June 28, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I can’t think of a better idea than drawing the line between the end of the working day and one’s personal life than listening to a song. Might have to adopt it.

      June 29, 2016
      |Reply
  6. Well said. Sometimes we’re so busy running toward something, we miss what is right in front of us.

    June 28, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You don’t know how many times I am so focussed on the big picture that I can’t see any of the details.

      June 29, 2016
      |Reply
  7. Ah, what a special visitor you had! I firmly believe that when we stop to smell the roses/horseshit, we open ourselves to so much more and that’s what life should be about.

    June 28, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Animals have a way of being excellent reminders.

      June 29, 2016
      |Reply
  8. silvia
    silvia

    I wonder what would have happend had you opened the window. She might have run away or… I think that wild creatures are safer if they remain so but this is not the point. The point is the beauty of being in the moment fully aware of it. Movement needs pauses to be fully appreciated otherwise one is simply carried away. It’s like watching a choreography. And to me the most efficient metaphor for life is dance.

    June 28, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      It’s like the pause at the end of the inhale and exhale, isn’t it?

      June 29, 2016
      |Reply
  9. winston moreton
    winston moreton

    Catchy news. Good writers have nice things happen and inspire others. Looking out my office window at the young olive for one last time as I wait for Rajeesh to appear at 3pm with some papers he wants me to notarise. Sweet and sour. New halfway house tonight.

    June 28, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I wish you so much happiness in your new house. I find moving extremely bittersweet even if I should have gotten the knack of it by now, with over 20 moves. Every place holds memories and our personal energy that will be lost as soon as someone else moves in. But moving is also like opening a new book – only a lot more stressful.

      June 29, 2016
      |Reply
      • Winston moreton
        Winston moreton

        Thanks for that. I am writing from the hospital ward I woke in this morning. Some sort of cerebral episode no doubt occasioned by the stress of moving at an advanced age. Daughters busy booking flights from Aussie and Italia. How to stop them? I won’t tee hee.

        June 29, 2016
        |Reply
  10. I have found the past weeks when I am alone in the car I haven’t turned on the radio. I’ve always listened to the radio in the car. It just seems okay all of a sudden to not be distracted by input. I wonder what the deer was thinking?

    June 28, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I love silence. Especially inside the house. I love listening to the silence.

      June 29, 2016
      |Reply

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