“Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date trees.”

This quote is from one of my favorite books of all time, The Alchemist, By Paulo Coehlo.

When I first read this quote, I thought I understood the deeper meaning. I thought, “we have to face struggles to appreciate beauty and nature and the mystery that is life.” And that is true, but it is more than that.

A date tree is a simple thing, something often taken for granted if one does not take the time to appreciate it, if one does not pause to find the beauty in the simplicity. The date tree is something ignored completely when you are caught up in a desert storm.

“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day in itself, brings with it an eternity.” (Coehlo)

Each day is full of endless possibilities if only we are willing to look for them. But sometimes we get lost, and it is way to easy to not live in the present moment. In fact, it is much easier to live in the past or the future, to over analyze a mistake we wish we hadn’t made or to worry about all the things we have to do before tomorrow.

All too often, we forget that the present is where we are supposed to be. We don’t allow ourselves to live in the simplicity of a moment, in the pure joy that can come from the simplest things. Like going outside, climbing a tree, reading a book, and feeling the sun and the wind on your face.

It is oh so important to sit in these moments. It is important to sit with nature, to smell the roses, both metaphorically and literally. Because it is in those moments, in the simplicity that is the present, that we can often find the inspiration to let go of the past and the courage to face the future. The simple moments where we really bask in the present are gifts.

In times when you are overwhelmed, upset, or sad, take some time to just be. You may think the only way to solve your stress or upset is to deal with the problem head on, then and there. However, when we are worried beyond the point of reason, overwhelmed by what isn’t the here and now, we lose the capability to focus and accomplish anything productive.

That’s when it’s time to smell the roses.

That’s when it’s time to return to your child-like tendencies and do what you want, not what you need to do.

That’s when it’s time to sit in a tree.

Or under one. Or in a hammock, if you prefer. Whatever is your tree style of choice.

That’s when it’s time to appreciate the date trees, the simple things that we are blessed with everyday.

Because if when you can find beauty and blessing in the smallest of things in the present, the past and the future become far more manageable and a lot less intimidating.

In the words of the always extraordinary Coehlo, “It is the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” But only if we take the time to find them. Only when we put the desert behind us will we appreciate the date trees.