The Smell of Spain, and Forgiveness

July 26, 2011 5 Comments

Like so many other break through a-ha moments, this one came to me while running the other morning. There is something about the rhythm of my feet heating the pavement, my breath in sync with my movement, that clears my mind and allows for wisdom and clarity to move in.

It’s been hot, and I’m sure you are feeling the sweltering heat too. The air is thick. You can almost feel it against your skin. Living in Ohio we are guaranteed to have some days like these every summer. Somehow I always forget how oppressive the heat can be.

I was feeling the heat on my run. My attempts to escape it by going out early in the morning were rather fruitless. It was already in the 80s at 7am. But I plugged on.

For those of you who run you know the feeling of heightened senses while running, especially the sense of smell. I’ve scorned at people putting chemical pesticides on their lawns while running, not just because I don’t believe in that (and if you saw my lawn you would see how true that is) but because when I run the smell of the chemicals is so strong I am forced to hold my breath as I go by.

On my high heat run I approached one of the dreaded lawn chemical trucks, and looked in relief as I saw that the application process hadn’t started yet. Instead I noticed that the truck was idling, with the driver sitting inside. My feet carried me closer and I got my first whiff of the dreaded diesel exhaust. Yuck! But then it carried me somewhere else.

As I inhaled the smell of diesel in the warm, thick, early morning air I was transported. To Spain. I could feel my feet walking over the cobblestone streets. I could taste the strong coffee and sweet pastries. I could hear the rattle of shop owners raising the gates covering the fronts of their shops. I could feel the anticipation of a day’s adventure in seeing new sights.

The sense of smell is really magical like that. The tiniest scent can transport you someplace else, and in such unexpected ways. I have no memory of smelling diesel in Spain, but I certainly must have.

I ran along, remembering my visits to beautiful Spain as well as Italy, France, England and other parts of Europe. With my endorphins running high I was overcome with gratitude for the amazing opportunities I have had to travel and see so much.

You see, that isn’t how I always look back on some of my experiences. All too often I see the money spent, the debt I incurred at the time, the fact that I was living beyond my means in my 20s.

I see this when I look at my graduate degree as well, my Masters in Social Work. I’m not using my MSW in any formal sense right now and will be paying it off until I’m close to retirement. So often I look at my degree with lots of regret.

Ridiculous! My experience in graduate school was phenomenal. I learned so much, from the coursework, from the relationships I developed with my classmates and professors, from living with roommates who were very different from me. It is also where I met my husband, which is without a doubt the best thing to happen to my life so far.

Am I in a different place financially due to some of the experiences I have had? Yes. Most certainly. Would it be nice to not have to send checks off every month for student loan bills? Hell yes!

Without those experiences I would not be the person I am today. Travel changed the way I view myself and the world. Education developed my mind and helped plant the seeds for the work I’m doing right now.

How do you put a price on experience anyway? The wealth of travel and education is immeasurable, no matter what the bills may say. And since wealth begets wealth, I know that there is lots more coming my way.

Regrets over past and future debts? No more. I forgive myself and appreciate all that I have today thanks to my past experiences. My life is so rich and full. Given the chance I would do it all over again. I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Filed in: Blog, Self Exploration

Comments (5)

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  1. mom says:

    Lovely and dear memories for you to have always and to share with your beauties. ,3

  2. Lindsey says:

    Holy cow, Kelly, that was a really great post. I am constantly beating myself up about and getting stuck in fear about our debt. Looking at it the way you’ve done here could really melt the block I have, feeling scarcity all the time. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • kelly says:

      I’m so happy to know you enjoyed my post Lindsey. Making peace with debt is such a tough thing, balancing the acceptance with taking action, while still allowing yourself to live a decent life. We’ve made sacrifices in lieu of paying down debt. We could make more but that’s where the balancing comes in. It is nice to know that we aren’t alone in the debt burden. It can feel pretty isolating at times though, and especially confusing when our debt now is almost exclusively student loan debt. There are certainly future posts exploring this topic!

  3. Becky says:

    Oh, Kelly! I really loved this post. Weaving in your everyday experience of running to your senses to Spain and then to a blocking thought and finally an empowered new thought! Love that! And I needed to hear what you said about money vs. experiences. So true! I tend to forget that as well.

    • kelly says:

      Thanks so much Becky. I’m definitely still learning to value the experiences and not feel regret at the money spent. It’s a process, right?

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