I won’t say the reason I’m heading to a small island off the coast of North Carolina is because of a bottle of my wife’s body wash. That would be an untruth. But it would also be an untruth to say that bottle of lavender-flavored goop doesn’t have anything to do with my vacation. It does.
Me, I’m not a body wash kind of guy. Just give me a bar of plain soap. No bottles, no fancy bouquet of smells. My wife? She likes that sort of thing. Apple and peach and pear and whatnot. She smells like an orchard, my wife.
The thing about having such a mélange of soap is that things tend to get a little messy. There are bottles everywhere. Dozens of them, in various stages of use. Last night, my bull of a son got out of the shower and stepped on them, scattering them like miniature bowling pins.
I was nice enough to clean them up seeing as how everyone else was getting packed. Spending a week from home is akin to adopting a nomadic lifestyle. There are clothes to gather, and medicine and food and computers and iPads—a lot of stress just to get ready for a little relaxation. And though I’m always up for a trip to the ocean, this year things are a little hectic. Edit this book. Write that book. And can you do this interview? I’m busy. I’m busy and there’s really no time for me to relax, because Things Must Be Done. And sometimes you have so many Things That Must Be Done, the only thing you can really do is pick up a mess of bottled soap that your son has spilled over.
So I picked them up one by one, arranging them in no particular order or way, just trying to keep them and myself upright. Then I turned one of the bottles—Lemon Mist, or something like that—around and read the label for no apparent reason at all.
And there it was.
It’s amazing, really, the sorts of wisdom one can find in the most unlikely of places. Over the years I have found guidance from acorns and cornfields, guitar strings and rainy afternoons, but until that moment I had never had the occasion to be smacked in the head by Truth via a bottle of body wash. But we never really know from whence inspiration will come, do we? I think that’s all part of the fun.
You see, written in tiny black letters on the back of the bottle, right below a surprisingly long line of ingredients, were these words:
For best results, breathe deeply.
I’m not going to the coast because of a bottle of soap, but I am going because of what that bottle of soap says. Because it’s right, you know. Life is a beautiful thing that can get tough at times. It’ll purr just before it bears its teeth. And in those times when things get so busy and so complicated, we all have a tendency to forget that it’s the little things that keep us going. The simple things like breathing deep.