Before I Arrive
When I was a senior in college, I remember how my roommate laughed at what had become a staple in my Friday night routine.
Long before texting to firm up plans became the norm, my boyfriend, a smart but non-academic type, would contact me on the shared phone in my dorm suite.
He’d confirm a meeting time, maybe suggest sharing a pitcher of beer at the Downtown Lounge then going out for catfish and shooting pool at a townie joint, then he’d confirm plans to go back to his place.
He lived off-campus, a rarity at the midwestern college I attended.
Although I was not naturally confident, certainly not adept at flirting, I’d end our conversation with a short pronouncement.
“Prepare yourself to be delighted.”
I recalled this recently as I walked in my neighborhood. There’s a lilac bush I pass often. For a few short weeks in spring, I’ll stare at it in full bloom, its branches stretching out in a small front yard.
Maybe twenty or thirty feet before my eyes know to look for its delicate flowers beyond the fence, I can smell its fragrance.
The scent of fresh lilac is pleasant to me.
Maybe I have a fondness for the subtle color too.
Maybe lilacs were perfectly woven into a centerpiece at a memorable event or maybe a favorite kindergarten teacher splashed on a perfume with the scent, and I relished taking a whiff when she paced the room before nap time.
The smell of lilac reminds me of what is best about spring. It’s a wonderful gift of nature, at its best for only a short time. No other flower smells like it.
I’m big on taking pleasure in the moment. Yet, I have a special appreciation for how anticipation can lead to how I experience a string of moments.
I cherish the stillness of an early morning walk when I turn off a busy boulevard and find myself on a residential street filled with small front lawns and various styles of fences.
I love how the scent of lilac starts to fill my nostrils in advance of seeing the bush that holds them in clusters. For a few moments, I don’t know or care where I am. I only know that I am full of lilac, the smell of lilac.
I appreciate noticing how the fragrance grows stronger up until the point where I find myself in front of the yard that contains the bush.
I smile when I see the wrought iron fence around the yard. It’s protecting something precious even though the fence does nothing to hold the scent in.
And, after stopping, when I continue my walk, I take note of the bouquet becoming fainter. I’ll hold on to the memory of the seconds just before I arrived.
Then…I’ll start looking forward to passing the same spot the next day.
Understanding that being in the moment does not preclude enjoying anticipation is no small thing.
Re-printed with permission.
Deborah Hawkins has been blogging on gratitude and mindfulness for over a decade, posting over 500 essays. In December of 2019, she brought out two books, The Best of No Small Thing — Mindful Meditations, a collection of favorite blogs, and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life — Making the Uplifting Experience of Gratitude Intentional, a workbook on her process. Through her books, classes, and coaching, she teaches people how to identify things to be grateful for in everyday experiences.
Visit Deborah at: Visit No Small Thing