Do the Roses Smell Good?

Mar 05, 2016

Do the Roses Smell Good?


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #12
Rite of Passage Four –First Love–
(1945 to 1949)


Ambition: Whose example did you want to follow?  If it was a parent, then did you want to do better than they had done?

I made my transition from a child’s allowance to an earned income at the hotel that my parents managed. I worked at a task that needed to be done by someone and that someone had become me.

I scrubbed a public restroom and received both money and a needed dose of humility. I had no illusions about my future as a janitor; what I wanted to be was an Hotelier…like my father…but more so, much more so!

I had caught a glimpse of the then managing director of the Dorchester hotel, in London. I remember him as a tall, elegant man with courtly manners and impeccably dressed. Oh how I yearned to be just like him, even down to the pearl pin in his pale grey silk tie!

In the same way that many a child gets an idea for their future by observing a parent I was quite definite about my career path at fourteen years old. I was also determined to do better than my father.

He did a great job, they both did. Loved by staff and customers and the owners! Who could beat that for achievement…but it wasn’t the best and, for some unknown reason, I wanted to be that person, the person who wins!

So…what about now?

My father never had a driving passion to be the best. I think he understood that it was unlikely since the war had interrupted any truly successful career path. It was enough for him to do a small thing and do it well and he did just that.

I find myself, at this time in my life, asking what might have happened if I had wanted to be more like my father and content with whatever that might have meant rather than always trying to be…better?

I have been a ‘driven’ man almost all my life. I have tried so hard to be…the best. For my “fifteen minutes of fame” I may at least have appeared to be the most successful but at what a cost!

As you read on about my journey and my feelings at the time…you will begin to see this ‘driven-ness’. It was a mix of the fear of failing that had taken root during my early schooling and my willingness to beused in a business that values both proficiency and personality.

I spent my life in hot pursuit of both and, for a great many years, never knowing what it meant to be…at peace.

It’s a peace that I’ve known for the past decade and it’s growing stronger every day.

Pix for March 5 (1)

Ah! but the roses really do smell good!

They only nod their heads when you rush past them!

Take some time dear friends; you may achieve less but actually live more!

P.S This week I read Treena’s poem Can you hear the Spring?


  1. Patti Jean Meehan Says: 1:34 am

    I wanted to follow no ones example. I wanted to find my own way.

  2. Jean N Sozio Says: 11:04 pm

    Roses are my favorite flowers and planting them one of the passions in my garden. I love gardening more than sleep and when not doing chores love being outdoors fellowshipping with the flowers, trees, shrubs, fruits, herbs, vegetables, and birds.

  3. Jean N Sozio Says: 10:59 pm

    I am the youngest of 9 that spans 32 years. I always wanted to be older – I couldn’t wait to grow up and be independent – on my own. Waiting until I was 18 was excruciating. I was head strong – I knew my own mind – I wanted to go out and help the world – I wanted to join the Peace Corps. Parallel to this I wanted to be domestic – an old fashioned girl at home raising children. I was very mature for my age. As it turned out – looking back as a senior citizen now – I learned to be flexible and acquire multiple skills that allowed me to move in many directions – not one single path. It served me well and kept me working when others were getting shut out of job opportunities. I learned to always have a back-up plan.

  4. Ron Flatter Says: 8:03 pm

    This one really hit home, Graham. I have been career-driven all my life00 to the point I have had little patience for others who are not. That, of course, is not fair to those others. I idolized your persona in 1970 – wanting to be you and Johnny Carson and a kinder, gentler Howard Cosell. But seeing the arc of your life since and the place you are now inspired me to realize that the pedestal for which I have been reaching is a will-o’-the-wisp – even a complete mirage. I have long been asked by those close to me what I am looking for in life. Curiously, I am still not sure; I leave that in the Lord’s hands. If nothing else, I am still learning – and I hope that never stops. And this message from you was again a teaching moment.

  5. Carol Ritchie Says: 11:26 am

    Happy Rose Sunday!

  6. Melanie Says: 4:07 am

    I think you hit on an important point-one most often overlooked by people in the pursuit of more, more, more: “It was enough for him to do a small thing and to do it well”. What a blessing to find that little niche that only I can fill and to fill it with beauty and love and kindness! Always doing my very best, but unconcerned with applause or public affirmation-that is the true path to a contented life. Having more, being more, seeing more are false promises of fulfillment. When we long for “more” there is never “enough”. I am a shepherd, mother and wife who strives each day to love those around me fully and well.

    I lost my adult son to an accident two years ago. And if I was not convinced before, I most certainly am now: only love truly matters!

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Annie Says: 11:30 pm

    Dear Graham,

    How lovely you explain the zest that many of us, if we are honest with ourselves have done the same in the past, as we have matured we grow to understand that it really is the things we often take for granted that in these later days mean the most………….as the Forsythia begins to bloom, and the daffodils wave so cheerily………..let us all take but a few minutes to savour this lovely world of ours.

    In peace and harmony!

  8. George Medica Says: 8:55 pm

    Such a peaceful moment you shared in the photo.
    You were blessed with such a wonderful person to share it with.
    The hidden symbol above you in the photo, an extraordinary pane window that most certainly resembles a cross.
    I feel is a symbol that one day you will be united with her in glory.

  9. Mitchell B Mahony Says: 7:25 pm

    There are actually several topics here. One that seems to keep jumping out at me and triggers a memory.

    Driven. It’s funny what would make me driven and undriven. Or rather what made me more driven than something else. Growing up in LA, at one time I had a vague notion of being a paramedic, bolstered by the TV show “Emergency!”. Then there was a life changing event(s). We had an exchange student from Mexico for 6 weeks one summer (via the Sister City program) and my parents enjoyed his stay so much, that they arranged a private exchange with his family. Their middle son would live with my folks and I would live with his family. This was to take place the following school year. The family owned two radio stations and on the weekends, I would go down and work at them doing various tasks, mostly in the studios. I rather enjoyed it…to the degree that I wanted to work in radio as a career. A few years later, I revealed this story on my University application and was actually accepted as a Broadcast Journalism major. (DRIVEN!) I was ecstatic! As I settled into college life and took my first Radio/Tv class, I was horrified that upon graduation and the requisite internships, I would be lucky, LUCKY if I landed a weekend job working the overnight mixing board at KORN in Des Moines. This type of job required getting one’s ‘card punched’ at dismal, far away places for what would seem like eternity (remember, I was born and raised in LA) and I had no intention of EVER leaving. (UNDRIVEN!) This left me in flux. Unfortunately, the latter won out. And no one sat me down and explained the birds and the bees of real life Careerland. So I bailed on my dream. Oddly, I got a job with an airline and after two years in LA I was left with the decision of leaving LA (the office was closing and moving to Tucson) or finding another new job. During this time our office softball team played in a tournament against the other offices. I met some friendly folks from NC. They encouraged me to visit. I did. I LOVED the place. So I opted to transfer (DRIVEN!). 4 years later I transferred again, to Texas (DRIVEN!). And now I am ramping up to retire (DRIVEN!) and I will be going back to NC sometime after that (D R I V E N !) That’s right, no more California.

  10. Lynn Severance Says: 2:51 pm

    Graham said of his father, “It was enough for him to do a small thing and do it well and he did just that.”

    I never thought of the career I was called to as “small” in that it was unimportant (and I don’t believe Graham meant that about his father’s work). For me, to teach young children the value of learning and recognizing their gifts as great worth was the joy of my life. . . at least my career life. It was neither small or big – for me it was just right. I felt settled in at doing my best – no scurry to be the best – but doing my best (much the same as what I told my students). It was work, but it did not seem like “work” for it filled my being.

    Where I got blindsided (forgot to “smell different kinds of flowers”) was in loving involvements outside my work life. They seemed effortless as they were filled with the joy of supporting others. It was not until my body collapsed that I realized I needed to “stop” ( should have stopped sooner 🙂 ) to walk through different gardens where someone else had done the gardening. In doing that I would soak in the nurture others had provided through their gifts and come more refreshed to a time of giving from my own.

  11. Kathy Moon Says: 8:50 am

    I so appreciate your wisdom – one of the things I have learned as an adult is to appreciate the thoughtfulness of a life well lived. My dear mother in law who is now passed said “whatever you are worried about, it is not what is going to happen.” Your point is well taken and as you suggest, I will be smelling more roses in these coming weeks.

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