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What does 'stop and smell the roses' mean?

Updated on October 1, 2016

Roses, Daisies, Tulips, and more...

I often wondered what it meant when I was a child and my grandparents would say that to me. Did it mean that I should actually stop in a garden and sniff the thorny blooms; or seek out a floral shop. Or perhaps I'm supposed to seek out rose perfume or cologne? I suppose you could think of those things, but I don’t think that is what was meant by 'stop and smell the roses', or the coffee, or whatever else you might put in there.

What I began to think it meant....

As I grew older, I began to see things very differently. I saw pain, loss, hunger, fear and want. I saw children abused by their parents who are supposed to protect them. I saw people discriminated against (not just because of race or gender, but also because eyes are different, hair is different, jewelry is different, etc.). I have seen things that have made me cry and things that have made me angry. I have seen things that made me want to stand up and shout, but fear held me back. Has fear held you back? Ever? Not just fear of being hurt, but fear of being …..different.

O.K., my pictures aren't that scary, but the thoughts behind them are.............

Every day I see things that make me wonder where this world is going. People pushing, shoving, arguing, shouting, cheating for the win, grabbing to get what they think is the best, racing for the finish; watching the clock; me me me, my my my, I I I , WAIT A MINUTE! Is there no stop to this greedy, self-centered, outrageous behavior? Do they even realize what they are doing? Do they stop to see the result of what they do and say? Look closely, are we just as bad?!?!?!? And doesn’t fear keep us all from speaking out about it, and 'just going along'?

Geese flying overhead.
Geese flying overhead. | Source

Well, I think its time we all made the effort to 'be different' by stopping and smelling the roses. Stop to think about what you say before you say it. Stop to look around you and actually see the people, the animals, and the buildings. Stop to look at the child crying beside you and feel his/her pain and know how they feel (you were once there). Stop to hear the bird sing its song as it flies overhead. Stop to watch the falling leaf slowly glide to the earth. Stop to hear the brook or river as it travels along its path to some unknown destination. Stop to hear the silence during a heavy winter snow. Stop….that is the message, stop.

Everyone is so busy making their way along their own hurried path that they fail to see who they are stepping on, shoving away, or hurting as they move along. As I grow older, and my body slowly disintegrates (ah the wonder of youth), I find myself having to slow down.

At first, I was angry and frustrated. Then I began to hear and actually see the things around me. I stopped and heard a goose as it flew overhead seeking its companions. I heard a child giggling somewhere down the road. I saw a squirrel race across the road in the hopes of safely reaching the other side. I smelled the rain in the air just before a storm. And I finally understood the saying 'stop and smell the roses'.

Try it some time. Just stop wherever you are and close your eyes. Just for a moment. Sniff, listen, feel what is around you. Then you can continue to race along your way, but somewhere deep inside you, a small seed will begin to grow. It will grow and spread with each moment that you 'stop'. It will soon blossom and spread its petals to soften the path you follow and the smell of roses will soon fill the air.

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES and see the things that are all around you!

© 2011 Cheryl Simonds


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