By: Kevin Kilgarriff
For as long as most of us can remember, people have been using the phrase “Stop and smell the roses” to tell someone that they need to slow down and enjoy the life around them. But if you ask me, roses don’t smell all that great!
They smell ok. Pleasant even! But do they smell good enough to get their own phrase? I don’t think so. There are lots of other smells that would have more appeal.
I mean really, how often do you even see roses? If someone’s not buying them for you (mental note: buy flowers for wife) chances are that you aren’t going to happen upon them in your everyday travels. So why is this antiquated phrase still in use? It makes no sense and I think that it needs to be replaced with something more pertinent or pleasant. Maybe something like…
Stop and smell the cookies?
Stop and smell the brownies?
Stop and smell the chain steakhouse?
Stop and smell the 90’s?
Or Bacon! YES! Bacon!
“I do give off a rather pleasant aroma.”
It’s like a plate full of odoriferous excellence.
Do you realize how many people would actually stop to enjoy the life around them if they actually thought there would be a chance to smell bacon? Roses don’t quite have the same allure as something like bacon, and I’m sure life gets the shaft as a result of it.
But how would the simple act of stopping to smell the bacon make life better? Well, our sense of smell is such a huge part of our life and yet, just like the poor roses, it gets neglected. People go throughout their day actually smelling things left and right and barely even noticing. Not only are they not stopping to smell the roses, they aren’t even realizing the scent of the roses ever even entered the air around them. They’rerushing through life with blinders on, and they might as well add nose plugs to that.
Take a moment and think about all of the things that you could possibly get a whiff of at any moment of the day. Food. Soaps. Perfumes and colognes. That new car smell. Old car fumes. Chocolate. An old book. A charcoal barbecue heating up. Fireplaces! There’s too many even to list! I’d have to start categorizing them, and the list of categories would get too long!
And not all of the smells are even that good! Our noses are constantly warning us to get out of different places by alerting us when something, or someone, stinks. And honestly, they’re the ones that we really notice! Rotten food. Garbage. Feet. Dirty laundry. Sewage. Sweaty people. Freshly christened bathrooms. Our sense of smell will even protect us and let us know when something’s burning or there’s a gas leak. All of these things you’d rather not be around, and it’s your superior sniffers that lets you know about it.
I’m really amazed by the fact that our noses can get a whiff of something and quickly send a signal to our brains to tell us whether or not we like it. And I’m even more amazed by the associations that can accompany those signals.
Have you ever walked into a house and smelled meatballs on the stove and were immediately transported in your mind back to when you were a child and your mother was cooking dinner? And I think I can speak for anyone from Northeast Philly when I say that if you think about the Nabisco factory on Roosevelt Boulevard, you can literally remember the smell of the cookies that were baking as you drove by.
The only place in town that actually smelled good.
Sometimes people even experience phantom smells, or Phantosmia. This olfactory hallucination occurs when you happen to smell something for a brief instant when there is no possible reason that you should be. For instance, you’re sitting in your house alone with the windows closed and nothing in the oven and you catch a whiff of a cake in the oven. Or you’re sitting in your office and you begin to smell the scent of fresh cut grass.
Often people will immediately have a memory associated with the phantom smell. Some people believe that the spirit of a loved one is around them when this happens. And medical professionals believe that some phantom smells are a sign of serious medical conditions. Regardless of the reason, it’s pretty astonishing to experience this.
Our sense of smell plays such an important part in lives that businesses will count on itto get you to buy from them. The smell of coffee will make you want to buy one. The smell of cookies might draw you into a store. Disney actually invented a device, theSmellitzer, to incorporate scents into their rides to make them more realistic.
In the end, the aromas that we encounter every day help us to experience the world that we live in. We owe it to ourselves to notice them and enjoy the fact that we can experience them in the first place. Because not everyone can!
Anosmia is the inability to perceive odor, and more than 2 million people in the United States suffer from it. This means that they can’t smell fresh cut grass. They can’t smell chicken casserole wafting out of the oven. They can’t smell the Thanksgiving turkey or the pine needles from the Christmas tree. They can’t even experience the way a winter day smells just before it’s going to snow They can’t experience any of the olfactory brilliance that many of us enjoy each day
“I’ll never be able to smell my own farts!”
Now at the same time, they’ll never have to worry about sitting next to someone on the plain that smokes a pack a day. And they’ll never have to complain about the fake flowery smell coming from the bathroom after their aunt just used it. So that’s a plus for the Anosmiatic portion of the population!
But hopefully that helps you realize that the sense of smell that helps us experience the world is truly a gift, and that we need to treat it as such and take full advantage of it. Stop right now and take a deep breathe through your nose. Do you smell anything? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, depending on where you are. Maybe right now dinner is in the oven and you can’t wait to sit down to the table. Or maybe the trashcan is overflowing and you’re too lazy to get up and empty it…even though it reeks of day old Buffalo wings.
Regardless of what smells good to you and what smells like crap (assuming crap isn’t one of the things that smells good to you…freak), smells are a major part of nearly everyone’s life. And you literally need to stop and smell…something. Anything. Everything! Take a deep breath and take it all in. Take notice of everything around you and all of the pieces that are making it up.
Our lives are truly comprised of thousands of tiny miracles, and they combine to form an amazing symphony of awesomeness. Every time you fail to notice, it’s a slap in the symphonic face of nature. Make the best of every moment by truly living in them and appreciating what they’re made of. And don’t forget that you aren’t just visiting that moment. You’re part of it. So sit back and feel that moment and every part of it. Because if you don’t…well then you just stink.