One Approach to the New Year

The past few Saturdays, during my volunteer shift at the library, one of the patrons has smelled like woodsmoke.

That’s a smell I can’t get enough of. So honest and comforting.

A couple of years ago, some new friends invited me to their New Year’s Day celebration where they had an outdoor fire going. I didn’t wash my hair for a couple of days because it smelled like smoke and I wanted it to linger.

After that, I ordered this cool incense sampler with seven natural wood fragrances.

Now I know what alder smells like.

I sometimes burn it in my office while I knit and watch TV shows on my computer.

And one of my favorite times of the year is when the county-wide burn ban is lifted and people set fire to their burn piles that they’ve been building up with felled or fallen trees and branches. It’s usually after a rain, so the fires are quite smokey, and when I’m driving along and sight one, I roll down my windows and start sniffing.

So this person who smells so heavily of woodsmoke at the library isn’t so unusual.

I smelled smoke every time I went to the information desk to chat with the librarian when I wasn’t checking out books and DVDs, so I knew it was a patron using a computer because the desk is right in front of the bank of them, and the computers see a lot of action on Saturdays.

Last week, I was at the circulation desk, annoyed that my black cashmere sweater was pilling so much, when one of the computer regulars, a woman whose face I know, but name I don’t, came up to me, smiling, and said she had gotten some great news. Her friend in Florida just paid her cell phone bill and she’s finally going to have phone service after being without it for a couple of months.

She likes to talk, and often starts conversations randomly. I had spoken with her a few times over the summer, mostly about how she had lost her employment due to a serious health problem and is having a hard time finding another job.

As she told me about an upcoming trip to see her teenage son who is living at a boy’s home in north Texas, I realized that she was the one who smelled like woodsmoke.

“Now I just have to go over to my neighbor’s house and charge my phone,” she said. “I don’t have electricity.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “Why is that?”

“I lost my job a while back and my husband is disabled and can’t work, and we couldn’t pay the bill, so they shut it off.”

And then it hit me: she smells like woodsmoke because she’s trying to stay warm.

If you’re reading this from your computer at home, your power is on. Your heat and air conditioning work, as does your refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, blender, coffee maker, lights, washer, dryer, television, water heater, and phone charger. You have the money to pay the electric bill, so you’re healthy enough to work. You probably even have a car to drive to your job.

Isn’t that wonderful?

This year, what if we are grateful for what we have and don’t worry so much about what’s missing.

To Ponder: Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly. |-Tony Robbins-|

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