Man, I am so forgetful these days…
I cannot recall the official term for that thing – you know the thing where you hear a new word or see a thing once, and then it keeps appearing over and over and over again in your life?
Whatever that is, it happened to me in April. Sort of, anyway. Not with a new thing – I’ve actually enjoyed these my whole life. But once it got planted in my brain, the subject seemed to crop up everywhere I looked!
The subject was roses.
Okay, I Googled it and it’s the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon”. With my memory these days though, I think I’ll have more luck holding onto one of its other names like “frequency illusion” or “frequency bias”. Anyhow yes, it’s the “thing” where when we become more aware of something, our brains give us the illusion that it’s appearing more often.
So I was out rushing around living my life when different experiences suddenly started relating to roses! I thought I covered the subject with my Rose Parade float post a couple months back – but when something like this happens, I figure you should go with it.
I do understand, of course, that spring has sprung in LA and all kinds of stuff is in bloom (ask my sinuses…). And I get that as a result, I’m likely to come across roses. But after I first noticed a perfect one in a yard near where Mum lives, not only did we start noticing roses everywhere, but they started making other kinds of appearances!
Like I booked a day’s work in Pasadena and got my instructions on where to meet bright and early – and it was in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl!
Then that weekend, I excitedly cued up the Enterprise Incidents with Scott and Steve podcast (a delicious in-depth discussion of the original Star Trek series!) – and the latest episode was “By Any Other Name”! It’s one of my favorite “Kirk on his heels” episodes where the Captain is forced to make some super difficult choices and I just love how he responds especially in this one critical moment where he has to choose between blowing up the Enterprise to keep these aliens baddies from…
D’oh! I’m digressing. It’s just that Star Trek is a passion of mine – and since the plays of William Shakespeare are also a passion, this ep happens to be a two-for-one! And it’s Kirk who ties things together when he quotes a line from Romeo and Juliet to a curious female captor while they’re looking at some kind of galactic flower:
“That which we call a rose by any other name…(Shatnerian pause)…would smell as sweet.”
And speaking of Shakespeare – get this! I also discovered that I may be related to an actual historical person who figures in the Bard’s plays about the Wars of the Roses!
I’m not holding my breath on it, but according to a contributor to ancestry.com, a line on my family tree traces back to Richard III. That would make me the descendent of one of Shakespeare’s classic villains whose side in the Wars was represented by a white rose. Yup – I may be related to the monarch my favorite playwright painted as a schemer, a child killer, and a guy who goes big when he really wants a horse…
The play Richard III sure didn’t do Richard’s rep any favors – but years before finding out we might be kin, I felt pretty persuaded by a book that suggested Richard wasn’t as evil as Shakespeare portrayed him. In The Daughter of Time, a writer who went by Josephine Tey lays out her case (in detective novel form) for Richard’s being wrongly maligned by the winners of the struggle for the crown – and she offers her own suspect in the infamous murder of the young princes in the Tower.
I think it would be kinda fun to be related to Richard (that’s my brother’s name, by the way)! I just hope I wouldn’t be expected for the sake of family to call my beloved Shakespeare a hack…
Anyway, according to the Oscar-Meyer phenomenon (shoot, that’s not it…), these events knocked more loudly on the door of my consciousness simply because I’d spotted a single rose.
And the thing is I could easily have missed it. Most days, I’m either working or hanging with Mum, hurrying between home and work or home and Mum’s or Mum’s and the grocery store, etc. But on weekends, it’s become a habit for us to do this thing I’d heard about where you walk around outside kind of slowly and you chat about things and you say “hello” to the people you pass by and you pet their dogs and stuff.
I Googled this too and it’s called “strolling”.
Mum and I were out doing this when that first rose caught our eye. After that we started seeing them on just about every block! And next, I was noticing how they adorned fences and pathways outside all kinds of homes between my place and Mum’s – even right across the street from my apartment where I’d been pulling in and out every day and hadn’t seen that they’d appeared. So now while watching the road, of course, I also enjoy keeping a lookout for pretty roses as I drive along!
And an added benefit to all this rose-spotting is that it also calls up lovely recollections of the blooms of days past! Like I have so many happy memories of enjoying tea and sandwiches with dear friends and family at the Huntington Library – amid rows and rows of roses!
I also remember that a long time ago, an anonymous (and very kind) person sent me a dozen gorgeous red roses after a theatrical performance very early in my “career” (that would be when I was about nine) – I proudly displayed them on top of the family piano!
And earlier still, I believe I can recall the walks Mum and I took when I was four years old, and our neighborhood at the time was Adelaide, Australia! She’d take me to “kindy” (pre-school) and I seem to remember passing a white fence with a row of rose bushes along it – and the roses sometimes had little dewdrops on them. My kindy days are getting to be a dim and distant memory (although I’m back to really loving nap time!) – but how special it is as we move through busy and sometimes challenging times still to be strolling with Mum and discovering roses anew!
You know what? Somebody should create a little saying about how we ought to remember to do this in the midst of our hectic lives. Something about stopping and appreciating the roses. Or pausing and inhaling the fragrance of the roses. Something like that. Hm. I feel like maybe someone already has. I’ll Google this and circle back later.
In the meantime, I’ll hope that by any name or measure, your day turns out to be a sweet – and rosy – one!