When I was a boy, burning leaves was an autumn tradition. Burning fence rows was a spring expectation.
Okay, when I was a boy, we liked fire.
But one fire I hated was when my mother asked us to burn the trash before I left for school. In those days, burning trash was still acceptable. There was no rural trash pickup and certainly no recycling. This was before the Indian cried on those commercials and before we had the “Pitch-In America” campaign.
And you know the old saying, “Where there’s fire, there’s smoke.”
While I enjoyed a good trash burning just like the next guy, I tired of smelling like a garbage fire when I went to school. Once I lit the match it only took a few seconds and the smoke covered every inch of me. It was in my hair, in my clothes, on my skin, and there was nothing I could do. Once the smoke had wafted in my direction, I wore the stink for the rest of the day. No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake the smell.
The unfortunate thing is that I stopped noticing the stink. I got use to it. It became a part of me. But whenever I walked into a room, I was reminded of the odor. Friends would begin sniffing the air. Strangers would leave the room.
You’ve stepped on an elevator and noticed this truth. It might have been minutes or hours before, who knows? But someone was in that little box and his or her stink still lingers.
It might be bad perfume.
It could be old cigarettes.
It is often a combination of perspiration and last night’s liquor.
The stink is there and no one misses it, except the carrier.
I believe in this life, that we often carry a stink, even when we’ve not been burning trash.
Our bad habits, foolish choices, hurtful actions, spiteful words, and ignorant assumptions become trash fire smoke and cheap cologne that sticks to us. It follows us wherever we go. But the problem is that after a while, we become immune to the smell. It’s obvious for everyone else but we are blind to it. We walk around in a cloud of toxic words, choices, and actions, and everyone can see it but us. From our point of view, its normal to stink.
Check yourself today. How do you really smell?