Good afternoon ladies and gentleman
What is it that triggers memories? What thing causes you to disappear into the depths of your unconsciousness, to a memory you may not have replayed for years. Yet- there you are. Front and centre in the most unique, wonderfully awful, gut wrenchingly embarrassing moment from your past. Tears form in the corner of your eyes as you grimace or pull a curt half smile as you remember the laugh that person you were with let go. Then you remember, no matter how embarrassed or cringeworthy that memory is, you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
That smorgasbord of powerful feelings and emotions are all born from something, from the battle for control of your emotions. No matter the level of control you’re trying to wrangle- like a bull and its rider, the only inevitability is hitting the hard cold sand of the ring floor.
The majority of us possess 5 basic senses. Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste and Smell. These senses are the key for us finding our way in the world and understanding what we are doing as we go. Its this understanding, beyond basic unconscious reflexes that have allowed us to evolve into the semi-conscious beings that walk the earth today. All of them have their qualities, but all in their own way illicit memories.
Memories of a great meal can be bought back with the taste of a similar food, the touch of silk remind you of a beautiful dress you once wore to the ball, a song remind you of a great gig that etched itself onto a corner of your mind, the sight of a long brunette mane shocking your system into thinking your past had finally caught up with you and then there is smell.
Smell, I believe is the same- but different. The other senses will undeniably powerful, but very instantaneous in the reactions they cause. See something, remember it. Taste, Touch, whatever. Smell is as powerful, but more. You could catch the smallest smell of perfume on someone as you wander through a crowd, the lightbulb flickers as if the dragon of familiarity had stirred, but is yet to be woken.
It can get at you, the smallest smell. Minutes, hours, days can pass with this problem wittering at your brain, trying to remember why you know that smell and without knowing why it seems to affect you so much. Then, in the most random of moments, when you least expect it- you are overcome by a confused sadness and realise where that smell had come from. The aroma of a past happiness, a past love.
The Smell of You.
In my experience, smell brings about the most powerful memories. Flashbulbs of powerful familiarity, fleeting moments of happiness combined with sadness of where it all went wrong. You know, I know, we all know that bad things need to happen for us to appreciate how good the good things are. This applies with happy and sad moments just as much for without sadness, happiness would be a dream, nothing more than an idea of a feeling, much like the idea of love being much more appealing than love itself.
I think we are very easy to dismiss these feelings that are created by our senses, in particular by smell. Its as if we have developed this need in society to constantly be re-inventing oneself, convinced this “next” version will be the one that gets to be happy. Its these memories of pain, of love loved and love lost we work so hard to forget, to move on from and pretend it never happened. We can’t bare to look back at that day, that moment, that memory. A smell, an odour, an aroma has the power to sit on the very surface of your mind and make you feel so much of what you’ve lost because when you first experienced that moment you hoped it would last forever.
They don’t though. They never do- maybe that’s why we avoid creating those memories. If you don’t ever have those moments you wish to last forever then you never have to deal with it all flooding back. What if that wasn’t the idea of that smell though, the idea of the taste of that food or the touch of that silk. What if that smell, that positively confusing, terrifying moment when that powerful odour wafts up your nostrils and them memories come back to you in a tsunami of painful inevitability. “It’s going to hurt and the idea of smiling is not going to be possible for a while. “
Yet, without realising, they do make you smile. Those memories of lying across from someone as they stir to a smile, laughing so hard tears are streaming down your face, that meal that blew you away, the sunset you watched as you walked down the pier. We focus so badly on avoiding pain and all the memories that come with it- but no memory really causes you pain. You cause you pain.
Be proud of how far you’ve come and never wish to go back to the past. Nothing lasts forever, so be so in the moment at times of outstanding happiness that feel like they will never end. Perfection is a dream chased by people who don’t understand how beautiful it is to be flawed and forget that imperfection should be revelled in and never feared. Your senses remind you of a time long gone and be happy they are gone but be happy that you were there too. Memories give you the means to create the person you want to be, so don’t hide from them. Let them hurt and let yourself enjoy that moment.
That small fleeting moment, in a cold winter, trudging to the train station, leaves underfoot and the smell of autumn in the air.
The smell, that unmistakable smell, and remember a time
A time that was truly outstanding.
And smile. Maybe only for a second, but for that second you were so very proud of you.
Yours, with love as always.