I woke up the other day and although I had ample notice of the need to “spring forward” and change our clocks to accommodate Daylight Savings Time (DST), it wasn’t until early that afternoon that my daily schedule was a bit off kilter. Thank God for pharmacies that are open 24/7 so I can get a newspaper on a Sunday before they are all sold out. I still get a sense of rejuvenation when we gain an hour in March, the temperature is in the 70s, and lilacs and tulips and roses are fighting their way to the surface of the garden.
A lovely commercial for Glade begins with the language: “No one says to wake up and touch, see, taste or hear the roses. They say to wake up and smell the roses.”
Well, actually “they” don’t. The idiomatic phrase is “Wake up and smell the coffee” and is used when someone needs a jolt to snap them back into reality. When someone needs to pay attention to what’s really going on.
The idiom “stop and smell the roses” is about taking the time to appreciate life, taking a break from mindless busyness, to experience life’s simple pleasures.
The first time I saw this spot I loved it — and I still do love it. It’s everything you want a commercial to be: it engages the senses and the emotions with a phrase, that even if mangled, is memorable and ties the benefit to the product.
Of course, the spot uses one of the great techniques of advertising copywriting: “tweaking the cliché.” That is, taking an idiomatic expression and giving it a twist, so that the reader gets the pleasure of seeing the familiar from a new angle.
These kinds of headlines are always popular with both copywriters and readers. And one could claim that the writer of the Glade spot was trying to use this technique by mashing the two idioms together. I don’t think so — I think it’s simply a mistake. However, it manages to work even if it’s not quite right.
My point is this – DST and thoughts of roses and tulips and lilacs and coffee exist to remind us that the simplest things in life can be enough to recharge our batteries and see life a little bit differently than we did the day before, or an hour before, or a Nano second before writer’s block took over our brain pans.
When I get “writers block” and can’t figure out what to type next, I take my cup of coffee and sit on my front porch and “vegetate” for a while. I don’t try and think of anything. I don’t try and force a thought out of my brain pan. I just “veg out”. You look up at whatever the weather is trying to do and put your brain on auto pilot and open the front door and let whatever wants to float in – do so. It might take another cup of roasted Columbian but eventually it’s no different than sitting on the dock of the bay and watching the sunlight slip away. Or fishing for a giant wahoo off a boat on a canal in south Florida. Or as Kevin Costner said in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it he will come.”
I would add that if you “think it” – it will come. That elusive next phrase. That sentence that will be the bridge to the rest of your blog or post. That momentary mental lapse that exists only in our imaginations.
I would offer three pieces of advice.
- Don’t force that next sentence. Let it come naturally. As naturally as a peach would ripen under the right circumstances.
- Don’t dwell on what comes next. Focus on what comes after what comes next.
- Don’t fake it. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy the words will flow from your fingertips unto the keyboard once you can see in your mind what should logically follow your temporary brain fart.
Then all those roses and tulips and coffee and sunshine and fresh air and that front porch will have done the job they were meant to do – allow you to see the future that eluded you earlier and remind you that for everything there is a season and a purpose under the sun, and it is time to spring forward once again.
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