I am not eccentric. It’s just that I am more alive than most people. ~ Edith Sitwell
Ah, eccentrics. They do things that others might think are odd, things that make people stare. They skip for no reason, sing aloud while walking down the street, or wear cat ears in the middle of July.
My mom is an eccentric. When I was a kid, I was very concerned about what others thought about me. So, having an eccentric mom was always a risk; it meant at any moment I might wilt of embarrassment. She’d ignore official prohibitive signs, claiming they were intended for everyone else. She’d sing along to music in the grocery store, busting Jackson Five moves in the freezer aisle. She’d talk to strangers who could clearly care less, and then end up fast friends. Every time I melted into into a puddle of Oh my God!
Then I grew up and moved away.
Though my mother is far, far away, I still maintain an irrational concern about what others think. Most of the time this is buried deep below the surface, so deep I’ve convinced myself on many occasions that my über evolved self doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
What a rock star, right?
I’ve been taking my third trimester belly on walks in the middle of the day per my doctor’s advice. It’s spring and spring is the best time for walks. There are flowers EVERYWHERE. It’s possible the flowers have always been there and I never noticed until now. This is California, after all. In any event, my walks are lined with flowers. One garden in particular is so stunning that I sometimes slow down just so I can look at the flowers for a little longer. Day after day, I pass and marvel at the most beautiful roses I’ve ever seen. At the risk of sounding like the kind of person who takes high tea at the Ritz, I have to say, they are exquisite.
This week I walked by as I usually do and had this crazy urge to bend down and smell the roses. But I didn’t smell them. I convinced myself that admiring them was enough, and kept on walking.
The next day I did the same thing.
After a few days of this I had to ask, Why I can’t just bend over and smell the damn roses?
Then, I figured it out. My subconscious thoughts go something like this: If I smell the roses, someone might see me. If someone sees me, they might think I’m…eccentric.
Eccentric? Oh no!
I mean, really, all hoarders aside, what’s so wrong with being eccentric? What’s wrong with dancing hippies or ladies who where their weight in jewelry? And what’s so bad about being the kind of person who actually stops to smell the roses?
Well, nothing really. In fact, I’d hazard to say these are the people that make the world a more interesting place. These are the artists, the poets, and the dreamers who inspire us for being ahead of their time. Why should I be ashamed to join those ranks? I should be honored!
So, I made a pact with myself to smell the roses. Not only that, I had to smell every rose I walked by. It was the antidote I needed to shake things up a bit. Not as wild as busting Michael Jackson in the grocery store, but for me it was a daring act.
I think we all have our proverbial roses that we are reluctant to smell, for fear of what others will think. It’s important to take note of the things we are drawn to but resist and ask ourselves, Am I resisting out of fear? Often, those are exactly the things we need to do to step out of our comfort zones. Those are the things that make us feel alive.
Smelling roses may not be the most eccentric thing one could do. But it was for me. The things that make us feel alive are unique to each of us. What is completely banal for one person could be a daring act of bravery for another. The trick to really living each day is finding that thing that scares you and doing it anyway, as Eleanor Roosevelt once suggested. Nothing proverbial about it.