A corpse flower is huge, beautiful, smelly, and blooms for 36 hours. The New York Botanical Garden recently had a bloom, for only the fourth time since 1932.

And I almost missed it.

Because I had a big meeting. And was 90 minutes away. There was a lot of work to do. There would be traffic. Etc, etc. Lots of obstacles.

What was I thinking? We are empty nesters, no one to pick up from soccer practice. There was no email that couldn’t be sent later that night or early the next morning. And my big presentation was being conducted via WebEx.

What was keeping me away? Inertia. We have our routines and daily demands. Its easier to follow them than to break free.

Then in the midst of conducting some research for a talk I was giving, I came across this three year old article by Jane Porter, Routine Disruption: How to Change your Habits for the Better. My favorite paragraph:

Researchers suggest that the best way to break from routine and seek out new ideas is to literally put yourself in unfamiliar places and situations. Such novel experiences help unleash your imagination by forcing the mind out of its tendency to rely on categories and take shortcuts, according to neuroscientist Gregory Berns. “Only when you consciously confront your brain’s reliance on categories will you be able to imagine outside of its boundaries,” he writes in his book Iconoclast.

The rest is easy to guess. We seized the day. Four of us walked into the NYBG at 8pm, and by 8 pm the following day the flower had wilted.

Now when a disruption beckons, I try to remember that it’s not an indulgence. It’s exercise class for my brain.