Life is Short; Don’t Procrastinate

A friend of mine recently passed away. It was unexpected. Or, at least, I was not ready for him to go. To be fair, he had cancer. But he was fighting it. Apparently, he fell while alone at his home. He never recovered enough after that for me to communicate with him.

I keep thinking of the things I should have said to him, the lunches or shopping trips we should have had together. I wish I would have made more time for him when I was in town. Not that I didn’t make time for him; I just wish I would have spent more time. And I would have, had I known our time together was limited. Even now, it seems like I can just call him up or drive by his house. But I can’t.

All this reflection made me think about the topic of procrastination. Procrastination is really just the belief (or misconception) that we still have the time to do something later, rather than today or right now. On a micro, day-to-day level, procrastination causes us stress. If we run too close on a deadline for school or work, we get stressed out trying to get it done last minute. If we don’t leave early enough for work or a meeting, any delay in traffic causes distress.

But procrastination on a macro level is worse; it may cause us to completely miss out on something good. If we put off spending time with loved ones, they may not be around any longer. If we don’t treasure the time our children are young, they grow up and move away. Some people put off having children and then realize they are unable to be parents for one reason or another. If we wait for a good time to pursue that degree or career path, that time may never come and we will not have the chance to achieve our dreams.

I am guilty of waiting for the circumstances to be ideal to take a particular course of action. I think that if I wait for all the “stars to align” I will be taking less risk. But perhaps the opposite is true; if you hesitate too long, you risk not being able to take the course of action at all.

While hiking in the desert, which is pretty barren, I came across a little cluster of flowers. They, along with a bunch of stickers, grew out of a hollow in some rocks where, apparently, some small amount of water had accumulated. The habitat was not ideal. The water supply was scarce. The surroundings were bleak. But these little flowers went ahead and did their best. They sprouted, grew and bloomed. They are beautiful. I, too, need to go ahead and do my best to grow and bloom using the resources and circumstances at my current disposal. I should not wait for a better time or a better environment to do the things that I want to do or achieve. Nor should you.

Busy as a Bee

While recently visiting the Loire Valley in France, I was walking through the amazing gardens of a chateau. One section of the garden was nearly all lavender. The aroma was powerful, and calming, and a little sneeze-inducing. As I strolled along, bathing in the colors and scent, I heard a low murmur, or buzz. As I looked closer at the lavender bushes, I spied dozens of plump, fuzzy bees. They were flitting from blossom to blossom in the lavender. While they were moving quite quickly, and while they didn’t really seem to alight anywhere, I didn’t feel like they were frenzied or rushed. They were just methodically and efficiently going about their business of collecting pollen. Even when I moved in quite close to take some photos, they did not even seem to notice me, but carried on.

We know the bees are collecting the pollen to make their honey. They take the pollen back to the hive, and later on, a golden, delicious product results. Then the humans steal the honey, but that’s a different topic. What we also know is that while the bees are going about their own business, they are also cross-pollinating the plants and flowers. Smart gardeners (and the landscape crew of these impressive gardens were clearly very skilled and knowledgeable) intentionally plant a variety of flowers that attract bees and butterflies, and strategically locate them so cross-pollination is likely to happen. Of course, flowers have to be cross-pollinated to flourish.

I kind of doubt the bees are aware they are providing a valuable service in cross-pollinating the plants in the garden; they are likely just focused on doing their job or collecting pollen and making honey. Nonetheless, something beautiful happens as a side-effect. I wonder if, while I am diligently going about my business of being obedient to God and engaging in the work I have perceived He has set before me, if some beautiful or miraculous other things are happening as a result. Maybe I don’t even see it. Maybe I will never be aware of it. Perhaps someone will be touched or moved or inspired by something I say or do and go on to be changed or made better. God has the ability to take my steadfast faithfulness and turn it into something else beautiful that is apparently unrelated to the things I am doing. Maybe he uses other followers, like the butterflies, to do the same work, but in a different way.

The depth of the omniscience and manifestations of God’s plan for the world are far beyond our comprehension. However, if we only faithfully and diligently go about the tasks set before us, busy as bees, we may also contribute to the collateral blessings.

Perfect Petals

I was recently taking a minute in my friend’s rose garden in Napa Valley, California. I was seated next to a particularly fragrant rose bush and was enveloped by its heady aroma. I begin to examine the rose more closely. Each petal was so delicate. I gently plucked a petal and held it in my hand. It was white, almost translucent, with a vague tinge of pink at the edge. That petal was beautiful.

However, as I looked between the petal in my palm, and the blossom from which it came, I had to admit the blossom was much more appealing than the singular petal. As impressive as the blossom was, so much more beautiful was the entire rose bush. Who would not rather receive a bouquet of a dozen roses over a single rose?

And, then, as I looked around the amazing garden of roses that surrounded my seat, I was even more struck by the beauty. The roses in the garden were different colors, different sizes, some bushy, some climbing, some intertwined with other greenery. The whole was so much more brilliant and spectacular than the sole petal.

If I am a petal, I can be the most beautiful and perfect petal ever there was. Nonetheless, I could never compare to the beauty of the combined petals of the blossom, the bush, the bouquet or the garden. Only when I combine my beauty and uniqueness with that of others am I able to be truly spectacular, as part of an amazing garden.