Stupid Tip of the Day: Enjoy the Simple Things in Life

Note: Stupid Tip of the Day is a not-so-new regular feature of The Gate which will not be featured regularly — if at all — after today…or maybe not; but whether or not you are traveling, I am hoping that you take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life.

“T o put it another way, not all moments in time in family life are created equally. If nothing else over the last year that is a lesson that has been engrained in my soul. I could have had no clue sitting there on the beach in the Maldives in early May of 2014 what all would transpire over the next 12 months. Thankfully we are all still healthy, which I don’t take for granted in the slightest, but so many other things have changed in ways that would have made that exact trip and type of birthday celebration completely out of the realm of possibility today.”

Summer Hull of Mommy Points wrote this poignant essay on how quickly life can change in time. Believe me, Summer — I have been there and can relate. I have hinted about it in past articles such as this one in which I alluded to a certain situation which I was forced to endure for greater than a year where I could not travel and times were really trying…

…but one thing I have learned over the years is just how important are the simple things in life. I have traveled all over the world and would not trade that for anything in the world; but there are many times where I am in some far-flung land halfway around the world wishing for a moment to be sitting in my comfortable chair at home, relaxing on a cold winter night; or appreciating all that nature has to offer when I sit in my glider — not the airplane kind — outside in the warmth of the sun and continuously rock while hearing the birds chirping their songs, marveling at the colors of the flowers, and seeing the green leaves blooming on the trees for another spring season.

Technology has advanced to the point where we can do far more in a shorter amount of time than ever before — but that also means that there is a lot more in which we are either required or expected to do. I am the type of person who attempts to accomplish as much as possible; and I sometimes forget that it is beneficial — and even healthy — to stop for a while and simply relax to enjoy the simple things in life.

Writing a weblog is amazing in and of itself. When I worked as a member of the staff of a magazine in New York years ago, I remember how long it took to assemble all of the information and art work into something which was ready to publish and distribute. Today, I can write an article, take a few photographs, and compose them into something which is ready for the world to see and read — all within hours, whether or not I am in the middle of traveling. Do not get me wrong — preparing each article can be an incredible amount of work; and preparing several in one day can consume a significant amount of time — but it is still amazing just the same.

I am a perennial child who is always in awe and wonder about the world around me. I will look at something so simple — like a leaf on a tree or a rock — and my mind will wander off into a myriad of directions and thoughts…

…and I often get some great ideas as a result — in addition to feeling refreshed when it is time to go back to work or travel.

I hope that Summer and her family weather the difficult times with as much ease as possible while enjoying a different appreciation for the things and experiences in life.

“In many ways yesterday was just another day, but it also marked a specific point in time where it was easy to look back at where we were 12 months prior and sort of marvel at the changes life has delivered to our family. Some of those changes were welcome and exactly what we hoped for, others were much more mixed blessings. Our days look very different now. Our way of looking at many things has changed. In just a couple months the make-up of our family will be forever changed. Of course our travel patterns have also changed along with all of that. What made sense then would not now. What kept us happy and fulfilled now may not have been enough then.”

…and what makes sense now may not make sense a year from now. In a way, that is what makes life so wondrous. In order to appreciate the good, we must experience the bad. In order to appreciate the positive, we must experience the negative — and sometimes we never know when or where we will confront that negativity; but we must be prepared for it. Enjoying the simple things in life offers a momentary escape no matter how well or how bad life is going for you.

When people think that I am crazy for flying as a passenger in the economy class cabin on long-haul flights, I justify my supposed insanity as a way to truly appreciate the times when I do get upgraded or am admitted into a lounge. I manage my expectations. Often, I will sit on an airplane and appreciate the wonders which await my eyes outside of the window — such as the formations of the clouds or evidence on the ground below of the progress forged by mankind — even if I am sitting in a seat in the economy class cabin.

In the meantime, please allow me to impart something simple which my late mother used to enjoy: the sweet nectar of honeysuckle.

It is springtime here in the northern hemisphere; and the smell of honeysuckle abounds. It is not around all that long; so there is only a short window of opportunity to enjoy it…

…and although different varieties of honeysuckle can be found in many parts of the northern hemisphere around the world, it is new to anyone who is not familiar with this plant in a part of the world where he or she lives — so for that person, he or she would have to travel to experience it.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

First, choose a flower which has not yet fully bloomed — ideally, similar to the ones shown in the above photograph — and pick it from its base with your thumb and forefinger.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

There will usually be a green “cap” at its base. When you pull it off…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…a “string” will pull out along with it…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…and towards the end of that string, a droplet of edible sweet nectar will appear for you to enjoy.

This may seem silly or stupid; but it is a moment to savor where you do not have to think about anything else in the world; and it can help to temporarily clear your mind — and if you happen to have a child, this brief moment can easily become a simple yet cherished memory to share for a lifetime for both of you.

Whether you are going through a significant change in your life, as Summer Hull and her family are enduring; or if you happen to be entrenched in a routine; or whether you are at home or in the middle of traveling, please remember to take a moment to stop and savor the simple things in life around you — be it smelling the roses; or tasting the sweet nectar of honeysuckle…

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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