Smell The Roses


Some thoughts today on transformation.

I saw something the other day you don’t see very often. I watched a well dressed man stop abruptly, as if held by some invisible force. He was in a hurry, given his stride and determined pace, yet when he passed a public garden of blossoming roses the man suddenly stopped, put down his briefcase, and turned to face the beauty that bloomed there.

There were probably sixty rose bushes each with eight to ten blossoms festooning the prickly stems. It was a magnificent site. The plethora of color, in the softness of the morning light, stopped this busy man in his hurried quest. He stood there surveying the garden patch, spending a moment at each bush. His gaze stopped at a particularly full bush of bright golden yellow blossoms. He reached down, not to pick, but gently touched or better yet caressed this gift of nature. He kept his hand there for a long moment as he once again glanced at the entire patch of extraordinary color.

I thought how fortunate I was to be reminded, in such a tender private way, that no matter the urgency of an appointment, or how focused we are in our thoughts, when nature chooses to embrace us with her beauty and we choose to see it, that moment transforms our thoughts into a passion and we respond with awe. Thank you Sir for the reminder to take time and smell the roses.

A Pioneering Flight!


Johnny Miller died the other day. He was 102.

He was born just two years after the Wright Brothers flew their historic flight.

Miller had an extraordinary life in aviation. He learned to fly by teaching himself in a World War One Jenny and was proficient in Gyroplanes and many other aircraft culminating as a captain for Eastern Airlines flying jets.

Even though he reached the century mark two years ago, Johnny Miller stayed as active as he could. A couple of years ago, when I was interviewing him for a documentary called Gyroplane Refrain, I offered to help him bring his Bonanza out of the hanger, but he said, “No, I’ll do it” and then at nearly one hundred he flew it to two perfect touch and go’s.

I marveled then at his youthful spirit and I wonder what makes some of us old at fifty and some of us young beyond ninety.

Health, I’m sure, has a lot to do with it, and I suspect the inner attributes of a youthful demeanor: enthusiasm, attitude and the joy of adventure are part of it. And perhaps pride in still being able to make perfect landings.

It was Longfellow who once wrote:

“for age is an opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress. And as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is fitted with stars, invisible by day”.

Reportedly Johnny Miller’s last words were: “I guess my flying days are over”. No, Johnny, I think they have just begun. Your spiritual flight has made the Eternal Light much brighter. Requiescat In Pace.

Listening


Some thoughts today on listening.

Listening is difficult for most people. We have somehow erroneously learned that the one who asserts, spouts or comments first is more likely to make a point, win an argument, or impress someone with alleged wit or wisdom.

Accurate and truthful communication requires clarity and simplicity and it requires listening. It means stopping to hear with a receptive mind and then processing what you heard. It’s an unfortunate condition that most people only hear what they want to hear because they don’t listen. How many of us, while looking like we are listening, are inwardly thinking of what we are going to say?

Competition in our culture puts a premium on self-expression. What we lack in knowledge, we sometimes make up for by talking fast, shouting or arguing.

Good listening is a virtue and a courtesy. It helps us to connect to the inner truth of a person. When that happens, serious conversations can go deeper. Arguments over meaningless accusations end and issues are more clearly understood and verbal conflict is reduced.

Maybe if we do it, it would spread to the television talk and interview shows. What a concept — LISTENING instead of interrupting!

A Solitary Hike

Some thoughts tonight on a solitary hike up a steep mountain trail. It wasn’t just hard walking, it was climbing and clinging and grabbing as I ascended a difficult nearly verticle path.

It was an intermittent misty and rainy day with a cool ambiance that more refreshed than chilled. Fog drifted up the climbing ledges in gossamer wafts of white and gray as the rain coated and washed the ascending trail into a slippery challange. Granite boulders, some the size of houses, festooned the path as I crawled, slid and climbed through rocky cuts, tiny cave like openings and up and down in crude rocky cuts and chimney climbs.

I loved the purity of the climb. The rain kept all other hikers, but one, from the slippery rocks and pine needle puddles and so it was just nature and me. Pristine and primal with occasional surprising vistas of the cliffs and lake below bursting through framed granite and conifer sculptures.

It was renewing and inspiring and an experience filled with fragrant ceremony for the eastern mountain laurel was in full bloom. Each pink and white blossom celebrated, not only with the mist of the day, but with seeming appreciation of just being the beauty it was.

I met a weasel who acknowledged my encroachment upon his home and path and a tiny wild finch who stayed much longer than expected singing on a branch not more than two feet away from my still and silent watch.

It was a glorious day.

When I got home and read the newspaper headlines I wondered, what are we doing to ourselves?