This too shall pass

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There’s a cliche that’s arguably over a hundred years old in the United States, to stop and smell the roses, an admonition against hurrying through life so fast that you miss all of the delights of life. Variants of this phrase and ideal stretch back as far as recorded human history goes. For example, Judaism contains an admonition to enjoy all that was created, and it’s even considered a sin by some interpretations to reject the wonders of life. (those of you who are active practitioners, feel free to correct me)

When I see friends writing and speaking about being ambitious, being hungry, wanting to do more, more, more, I’m partly happy and partly sad for them. Happy that they’re driven to accomplish, that they’re driven to do so much and create many good works, but saddened that they’re rushing through their lives, saddened that when the ride is over, I truly wonder if they will have actually enjoyed their lives fully.

Lunar eclipse 2008

What brings this to mind right now is the perfect evening breeze blowing through my window. Not too cool, a touch of humidity hinting at the springtime coming around, a faint scent of greenery as the first shoots pop out of the ground. It’s a breeze worth taking the time out to enjoy, which I did before writing this, the sort of breeze that will stir memories of youthful adventures when we’re old. You know exactly the kind if you’ve lived for a few years, the kind of breeze that will make you get up and go outside for a bit, maybe even grab a beverage to enjoy with it.

If there’s one teaching tool I’ve learned over the years to help me counteract the very bad habit of rushing past things, it’s the simple phrase, “this too shall pass”. Everything good and bad, right and wrong, new and old, eventually fades to nothing. Every joy, every sorrow, everything comes to an end. “This too shall pass” is a mantra and reminder to poke yourself with: if you’re enjoying something now, take the time to really enjoy it, because it will pass and it will never come again exactly as it is now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, an evening breeze is calling my name.

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5 responses to “This too shall pass”

  1.  Avatar

    A couple years back, we saw something mysterious popping up in our front yard. Right in the middle of the lawn. No clue why, but the grass got interrupted. We thought nothing of it – til we saw a crocus. And then its flowers.

    So, that thing we could have mowed over or tilled under now is that plant that appears out of nowhere, then flowers.

    Perspective. You seem to have it, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

  2. katBrogan Avatar

    I wonder the same thing.

  3. Mckra1g Avatar

    This post reminds me of another earlier entry from you – the one about Sarah Palin.Underpinning that post? Nothing to do with politics and everything to do with paying attention to where you are at the moment. Mindfulness.

    This one is a derivation of that post, giving us a gentle reminder that we DO need to take a moment and appreciate what is going on around us RIGHT NOW. What’s singular about your take is that, traditionally, ‘this too, shall pass’ is used as an encouragement when things suck. I like that you inverted this application of the phrase.

  4. My dad always says, “You’d better stop and smell the roses, Jen, or some bastard’s going to come along and pick ’em.” And in my haste to keep hustlin’ I tersely point out that he’s retired and he can smell the roses anytime he likes, while if I stop to smell the roses the race will run right past me and I’ll lose my place, causing me to have to run even faster than before to keep up. Your post is a timely reminder that I’m the only one who’s forcing me to race at all, and that any pace that doesn’t feel right isn’t the right pace for me. Faster isn’t better, it’s just faster. Think I’ll take my full hour for lunch today.

  5. I often get caught up in the drive of the work or the challenges we are faced with as business owners out trying to scratch out a living and always be ahead of the game. There are certain times when, as you have here, the luxury of stopping and writing a post like this one. Sometimes I get caught up in the “if I stop swimming I will drown” type metaphor with my job and work. It has happened in the past when I took some time off to play with my kids I missed that call or that opportunity, but I I may have forgotten them a day pr two later but the memories you describe are chiseled into our minds from days gone by. I yearn now for those times playing with my kids or watching that ball game while smelling the Spring breeze. Thanks for this Chris.

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