George Austin: July 2013 Writing Challenge Winner

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Gardenias, a Watermelon Patch, and Lemon Grass Tea A Recipe for the Perfect Day Writing

My younger days consisted of business deals, making the right connections, and high pressure. In the morning, I’d speak to a group of insurance agents. Then in the afternoon, I’d travel three hours at interstate speeds to recruit a stock broker, or make a sales presentation.

Evening would find me heading for another location to start the routine all over again the next day.

Then after 20 years, I looked around me to see a graveyard of unfulfilled hopes languishing like rusty old cars in a vacant lot. Similar to a sheep in wolves’ clothing, I had forced myself to fit within the face-paced financial world with the goal of building a fortune. My tenacity was fed by the hope that one day I’d be free to be who I was meant to be: a writer.

Today I sit on my screened back porch almost asleep from the cool winds bathing me. The Atlantic Ocean, and two rivers minutes away, keep this part of Florida awash in summer breezes. With them come the gentle aroma of two gardenia bushes in bloom. Beyond the back fence, trees and flowers in the woods sway in unison. And, it’s all I can do to keep from picking the dark green watermelons growing near the porch, but their bottoms haven’t yet turned yellow.

So, with my laptop in front of me, my wife out entertaining at a nursing home, and my son off to visit friends, the day is mine, free from distractions. Gee, even the cat has stopped whining.

As I sip from a cold glass of fresh lemon grass tea, I feel a surge of energy. When I adjust my glasses, I can still smell the tangy sweet oils on my fingers from the basil leaves I picked an hour earlier. Those leaves went into a homemade soup simmering on the stove.

How foolish I was. I ran from place to place looking for gold at the end of the rainbow, never stopping to enjoy the basil — or the lemon grass. The fortunes did grow, but they also vanished almost overnight in the dust clouds of a crashing market.

Now as each breeze wafts over me, my mind floods with ideas and an urgency to write. I think to myself, no one has a right to be this blessed. If everyone could experience this day with me, the whole world would overflow with the creative arts. And we’d all be a whole lot happier.

Thankfully, I don’t run around anymore and my goals have changed. I want to use all my skills to help those who need it most — the small business or nonprofit — tell their story with the power to get results.

My best day writing could very well be the rest of my life … doing what I love in an atmosphere I love, taking time to smell the gardenias.

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