I have little-to-no sense of smell. Years of allergies will do that. Very few scents register for me, but among those I can always detect are garlic, an old drugstore perfume called Charlie, and honeysuckle.
Honeysuckle makes me smile wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, every single time. It’s the smell of summer. The smell of simpler times, when kids – me – pulled on the stems and licked the tiny drop of nectar.
In many ways, for millions of people, this is a very tough time. A time of sickness, anxiety, and fear. Death, unemployment, and hunger.
In many ways, this is a complex time for me – although not in any of the scary ways it is for others. It’s a time of work at home and school at home and not going out to do anything at home, which is outside the comfort zone of everyone sheltering in this little corner of the culdesac.
And yet, in so many more ways this is a simpler time. Walks and bike rides at night. Hanging around on the porch. Time to make dinner – meat and starch and veggie – on a week night, because my commute to home life is a short walk down the stairs.
Although it seems like forever ago now, just a few short weeks ago in the office, I told one of my colleagues to practice the pause. Don’t be so quick to respond to everything. Don’t be so quick to make a selection without considering all options. Don’t be so quick to do *something.* Sometimes it’s better to do nothing and just give everyone a minute, because if we pause we often find that we – and others – will behave or react differently than if we rush to do.
As it turns out, I needed to maybe give myself my own lecture. I think the main lesson of shelter-in-place for me is that I need to practice the pause more. I am very capable of doing that in my professional life but I’m not as good at boundaries like that in my personal life, even though the same principles apply.
- I don’t have to respond to everything.
- I don’t have to be the one to do everything.
- I don’t have to attend all events or discussions I’m invited to.
- The only timetable that’s really important is the one that’s best for me and the girls.
Maybe the lesson of this unique time is that if we just practice the pause we can once again see the path to simple. Maybe even get back on it, so we can focus all our energy on what’s really important. Family. Faith. Presence. Giving. Our purpose and our calling.
It’s very hard to see the road we’re traveling and the path we’re on when we’re going 90 miles an hour. At that speed, we see some of what’s ahead and maybe we look back and see some of what’s behind us, but we definitely miss much of the view right now. It’s when we make progress at a reasonable speed and remember to practice the pause that we can really be present for the important things. Skipping competitions. An extra long and silly grace before a Cadbury Egg. Sisters snuggled up working on math together. Friends laughing and racing bikes to the end of the street. The sweet taste of a honeysuckle stem.