By Lynn Ingram |
It had been a slow and sluggish sort of day, the kind where I just wasn’t moved to do much of anything. Finally, though, I felt just guilty enough about the slothful passing of too many hours that I pushed myself out of the house and onto my bike for a short ride.
As happens every time I get myself up to go do something, when all I feel like doing is nothing, my spirits rose quickly, and my short ride grew into an evening excursion. After a bit, I stopped for a brief water break—and that was when I smelled it again. That scent, that heavenly scent that has delighted my olfactory sense every evening this week. Magnolia. Aaaaah, magnolia, magnolia. That word, in just three syllables, conjures up The South—the best of The South, mind you, this deep and elegant and lovely and hospitable place, these gracious and kind people that we think we are—and that we truly are—when we’re at our best.
The magnolia’s aroma is not just a perfume, not just a sweet smell. It’s a bright scent, with a little hint of lemon that so sets it apart. I scanned my surroundings for the source of this grace note to my evening. Searching is necessary right now, because the trees are not yet filled with blooms. Just a few flowers are hidden here and there, amid those shiny, waxen leaves. There! There they are! I spied my blossoms, rode to the tree, found a couple of not-quite-open buds, snapped their little branches, brazenly stealing them away, and tucked them into my bicycle basket, smiling all the while. Who would complain of the theft of magnolia blossoms?
Still delighted with my lovely ivory bounty, mere moments later, I spied the mimosa. Oh, be still my heart! Fully bloomed, pink featheriness spread like a fluffy halo over graceful branches. I love mimosas. The first hummingbird I ever saw came to a mimosa tree in my childhood backyard. Daddy would stop whatever he was doing to point out the tiny magic birds to me. I called the mimosa “the powder puff tree” because that’s what it looked like; a perfect image of the powder puffs Mama used for her makeup.
The mimosa branches were low enough that I could plunge my head into a bouquet of the dainty blooms and inhale their sweetness—and their scent IS pure sweetness, nothing more or less, delicate sweetness not nearly as intense as the magnolia. Magnolia comes to you across the night air, but to smell mimosa, you must come to the mimosa. I did—and in that instant, with my head inside the mimosa fronds, reveling in the sweet pink scent, about to pluck a couple branches for my very own, I felt it: Enchantment. Enchanted by the scent and shape and fantasy of a powder puff tree, hard on the heels of the headiness of the scent and sight of magnificent magnolia blooms, entirely taken over by the experience. Wholly in love with the moment, the wonder and beauty of the world, its great and grand gifts, my good fortune to have a place in it.
That capacity for utter contentment, that awareness, is the very best and most wonderful thing about being alive. It is, in fact, the very definition of being alive. Like most other too-busy, too-scattered human beings, I am prone to forget. I get caught up, ham-strung, quick-sanded in the quotidian tasks of life, the annoyances, the questions, the pains.
I forget: living IS this moment. This one right here. This absolutely, beyond-gorgeous, all-in-it, reveling, sucking-to-the-marrow moment right here. This mimosa moment.
It seems that I am reminded when I most need to be reminded. Like resurrection ferns after a spring rain, long and deep and hard thoughts have risen up in me over the past several months—thoughts about possibilities and changes and fears and mortality. I—along with the handful of friends with whom I discuss such things—have pondered: Now what? What next? The questions yawn like the gaping maw of a massive monster. They feel momentous, time-is-of-the-essence issues with which to deal, because we are so keenly aware now of time, of the fact that there likely is not as much left before us as there is behind us.
All those decisions, those moves, those choices—when you get right down to it, they really don’t matter. The specific detail, the content, is so completely beside the point—despite the fact that we will wrestle them like wretched demons all the night long, pounding pillows and sacrificing sleep, and metaphorically, if not actually, pacing the floor from midnight until dawn.
Inside all those big questions are the small answers that create life and feed our souls, the gifts that remind us who we are: it’s all about the mimosa moments. Those moments are where life is, where all the love is, where the peace and satisfaction lie. Mimosa moments can happen anywhere, with anybody, with nobody, with everybody. They can happen any way at all, any time at all, anywhere at all.
All we have to do is show up. All we have to do is be there, be open, be aware. All we have to do is pay attention to the magical—and perhaps, stolen—moments along life’s way that offer us bouquets of sweetness and beauty.
All we have to do is to remember: Life is truly, genuinely, really, all about the mimosa moments.
A native Carolinian, Lynn Ingram’s work has appeared in a number of publications including Sasee, The Charlotte Observer, Progressive Farmer, and Lake Wylie Magazine. She is a psychologist in private practice in Wilmington, and she teaches psychology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. When she’s not writing or sorting out the secrets of human nature, she gardens, dances and reads.