Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sense of Memory

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

Memories are funny things. Sometimes out of the blue, something sparks a memory of something that you hadn't thought about in years. Or it always sparks the same memory. For me it happens, to varying degrees, with all my senses.

The start of the Adam Ezra Group's The Portentous Beginnings of Daniel the Brave always brings me back to 1am in Iceland as Kenny and I encountered a surreal one lane(but two way) several mile long tunnel eerily lit. We had been searching for a good place to set up our tent and time had gotten away from us as we munching on sandwiches that Kenny was making from cold cuts and a loaf of bread we had picked up at the grocery store several hours earlier. This CD was on loop repeat so we had heard it several times already and we were merrily singing along just so happy to be in this amazing country. We had seen so many cool places and done some great hikes and I listen to that CD all the time now but it still always brings me back to that tunnel for some reason. Memory is strange that way.
The Tunnel 
And it's not just with music. My nose will bring me back to long-forgotten memories. For example, know that smell of a tent that was used previously by someone who backpacked with it: that slightly stale smell of BO mixed with the fresh mountain air? Well, that still sounds awful but it's a subtle BO smell for sure. Anyway, every once in a while I might run with someone who maybe left their workout stuff in the gym bag and then reused it. Since I'm running with them not cuddling, you only get a whiff once in a while. And what does it always remind me of? The time my friend and I were heading to City of Rock in Idaho from Park City and his car broke down late at night. No town or other cars in direction. What do we do? Set up his tent that he luckily had in his trunk. Which smelled as I described. Again I've camped numerous other times but my mind always goes back to that night and the next morning when we are awoken by a farmer whose land we slept on who tows us into town where we drop the car, and hitch a ride to climb. We spent the weekend climbing and arrived back to the car shop Monday morning and the car was fixed.

And then there is my tongue. Every time I eat a raw onion, I remember back to my grandmother's salads she used to make. The funny thing is that while I loved her salads, I hated the onions; picking them all out and putting them to the side. But now I eat those onions and try to replicate her salad but can never even come close to hers. And of course, the memories of her salad aren't of me munching happily eating in isolation but rather my whole family and likely my cousins Ryan and Cori all around the table eating the salad and G&S pizza and washing it down with either root beer or those "juices" with the tin covers. It's the memory of playing catch with my grandfather or playing basketball with my siblings. All happy, all because of a raw onion.

My cousins Cori and Ryan and brothers Andrew and Matt

But all not elicited memories are good. For example, touch. Every time I step on a pebble just right or step down wrong on my foot, my brain remembers when I broke my foot in the Flying Pig Marathon. Even though it is fully healed, that pebble will cause me to limp for a while. My brain remembers that pain and has lower the threshold of my pain tolerance in that specific situation. Lorimer Mosely does are great job explaining it in this TED talk.
My eyes probably have the least power of eliciting strong memories. Usually it's more that I'm recognizing friends in stranger(that person looks like such and such) or comparing certain aspects of a location to another location. But none of the strong emotional memories the other four senses produce. Although if I had Capgras syndrome, I'm sure I'd have a much stronger reaction!

How about you? What triggers those strong memories in your life? Hope they're more good than bad.

Until next time,


No comments:

Post a Comment