Buttercross - Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers along the way

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I saw a quote in the press attributed to Baroness (Joan) Bakewell where she said people appear these days not to faithfully observe the 12 days of Christmas.

She said: “It is a modern affliction. People seem in such a hurry to get one event over and on with the next. The pressure to move on, move things forward, the next big thing, it’s cramping everyone’s pleasure.”

Obviously she was just using Christmas as an example of the pace people live their lives these days, trying to move from one highlight to the next without regard for the bits in between.

Traditionally, Christmas decorations should go up on December 24 and be taken down on January 6, 12th night. Not many people follow this tradition these days, with many having decorations up for a much longer time and some for considerably shorter.

For a few years now, I have seen decorations in place with December barely arrived. By Christmas Day they must be looking a bit sad, and this when they should be at their most sparkling.

On the baroness’s general theme, it is as if people are trying to jump from one highlighted stepping stone to the next without treading what they perceive as the boring every day path in between, a path that could have many highlights of its own if only they can be seen and experienced.

I always remember the great Walter Hagen’s philosophy, which was to live life to the full and be sure that the flowers are seen, and smelled, along the way.

For those that may not be aware, Hagen was one of the greatest American professional golfers in the 1920s. He was very much an extrovert, larger than life character, in contrast to his great rival, Gene Sarazen.

Sarazen was just as talented a golfer, but much smaller and more introverted. The pair played many exciting big money exhibition matches all over America and beyond and the golfing public loved them and followed them avidly.

On the eve of one match, the Haig was giving one of his many impromptu parties in a bar when someone remarked that Sarazen had retired to bed many hours before and perhaps he should be doing the same? Hagen replied: “Gene may well be in bed, but is he sleeping?” Needless to say Hagen won the match next day, and by some margin.

When he came to Britain to play in the Open, he was miffed to learn that professional golfers were not allowed in the clubhouse, that being the norm in those days when amateurism ruled and professionalism belonged to the working classes. His answer was to drive up to the clubhouse in his Rolls Royce and change into his golfing gear in his car.

If this stepping stone analogy is followed through, I suppose those people hopping from one stone to the next must unfortunately be pretty bored and perhaps unmotivated on that path in between. What a waste of talent that might be for us all.

Wouldn’t it be good for all of us if those eyes could be opened, and that path be better trod, by many more of us? Then maybe those flowers that the Haig spoke about will be noticed, smelled and enjoyed by many more people.

In summary, the time we have on this earth, every bit of it, is too precious not to make the most of it.