Every time I catch the scent of freshly cut grass, no matter where I am, my life pauses for a moment as I transport back to one of my favorite places and feelings of all time… I used to have a lawn mowing business in high school where I spent countless hours gliding over lawns with a red, double-bladed, 36 inch mower cranked up in fifth gear.

I didn’t have an iPod, a Discman, or even a tape player to entertain me. I just had my thoughts and my awareness of the moment.

Sometimes I’d take an extra few passes over the finished lawn just to savor the moment and finish the idea germinating in my mind. The methodic manual labor heightened my creativity to a place where epiphanies are made.

Subtlety

It’s funny how the course of life takes you through subtle, unnoticeable changes in emotional state until you are in a place completely different from where you started. A little thing like the smell of freshly cut grass can take you back and make you realize the changes you have made without even knowing it.

In today’s cyber-reality and ultra-connectedness, I sometimes miss those simpler times. Although my work is more sophisticated and supposedly more important today, I’ve never been as satisfied with myself as I was after a long, hard day of cutting grass. The sense of accomplishment is hard to beat.

Candy

Maybe that’s why I enjoy my candy vending route. Although it requires much less of me physically, I enjoy the time I spend fixing machines, driving to locations, and thinking to myself.

Today, I was walking out of the store with a shopping cart full of candy when I caught wind of a scent that I had almost become immune to. A mixture of sea breeze, flowers, and oily concrete took me back to my first day in Hollywood a year ago.

It didn’t seem that long ago, but rediscovering a feeling of excitement, alertness, and possibility offered a contrast to the state I had subtly acquired. I remember thinking that the overwhelming feeling in Hollywood was the sense that anything was possible. It was a place where stars were born without any written map to success. I could feel the energy vibrating out of the ground and pushing me to shoot for the moon.

Jet Fuel

It was good to be reminded of that sense of adventure. I’ve always lived an unconventional life heavy on risk and novelty and light on routine. Maybe that’s why I kept my vending business in Austin, so I could get back on a plane every few months and change my surroundings.

Every time I walk down the jetway to board my flight, the smell of jet fuel takes me back to the seven years I spent as a French interpreter for Continental Airlines. I never really liked the job much, but I loved the sense of adventure and independence I felt each time I boarded a plane to Europe.

Most of the time, I was jet-lagged and half asleep, but I had the sense I was doing something that few people ever got to do. It felt like I knew some piece of information that most people didn’t.

River of Life

I hope I never forget the best feelings of my life, and never stop creating new ones. It’s easy to fall into a rut and let the river of life float you to a place you didn’t intend to go. We need those great little moments to make it all worthwhile.