The scent of relief in trying times
Updated: Feb 11
Some time ago, on my way home after working a particularly trying shift in the ICU, I drove by a rose bush that was totally covered in blooms of different colors and sizes. I was intrigued and so I pulled over, stopped my car, and turned off my lights to take a moment to gaze at its abundant beauty. As I gazed at the flowers in the glow of the streetlight, I put my window down and breathed in its intoxicating aroma. I quietly got out of my car so as not to alert anyone that I might be taken for an intruder and got up closer and closed my eyes. I filled my nostrils and in doing so, dispelled the sights, sounds and endless pressure of the ICU. The revelation was that even in the middle of a crazy day, the proverbial "taking the time to stop and smell the roses" could offer me change, rest, relief, and I could change myself, if only for a moment.
When our noses and our olfactory senses become numb, somehow a part of us dies. Our brain becomes complacent and seems to resign itself to the same old thing. Our spirit somehow gets heavier from this lack of beauty. Some scents are warnings and send us signals to stay away. I know this from passing the 911 site in 2001 and how it burned my nose. The EPA said the air was fine, but my nose did not lie. I covered my nose and mouth and went passed as quickly as I could. My senses and my being had been assaulted. I needed a vacation and found myself flying out to Montana and driving on the "Going-to-the-Sun" road. I smelled the incredibly crisp Arctic air as I drove up through these sacred Native Lands now called Glacier National Park. Descending from above the tree line, the skytop of the park, I drove down the western side of the Rockies where I was immediately immersed in the fresh scent of the Northwest pine trees that filled the peaks and valleys. My body came alive and my spirit seemed to sing with happiness. Yes...healing was definitely on the way!
I can experience this in so many different ways. Whether in "Enfluerage" an essential oils shop in Manhattan exploring scents or in the past, at home when I have come across a forgotten old bottle of EO lying around. Whether it be the expected blast of sensuality from a Persian rose or the bright sunny smell of an orange on an overcast day, I can always rely on these aromas to bring my spirit up just a notch. It reminds me that our world offers new perspectives to situations all the time. With just one inhalation I feel the tightness of my body leave me and it reminds me of that old saying, "how important is it anyway?"
Don't run in fear...relax, if for only a moment...and breathe.
It has been many years since, but the experience of driving past and stopping by that rose bush is strongly implanted in my mind. I am reminded in these difficult times that the scent of an herb, a smudge of Sage, or Palo Santo can bring a heightened sense and appreciation of the beauty that our Earth brings us. Whether it is lavender under my pillow, the scent of pine in the dark of winter, or just opening my door and smelling the scent of a Spring rain, know that these gifts are given to us by nature. Let us all remember to use them, and breathe...