May 7, 2011

Sense of Smell and our Memories…Mr. Marko

Confession: I smoke cigars. I know, the initial reaction by most is ewww, yuck;  I guess that is why my 9-year-old daughter refers to them as yuckies, I felt the same way when I was her age.  Growing up, my best friends dad, Mr. Marko, was never without his stogie; doing yard work, sitting on the porch with my dad, sitting in his den working on his coin collection, driving us to the movies and on.  Oh, and the Kentucky Derby! Mr. Marko loved horse races and he would have us kids over to join in the fun!  After the race we would each walk away with something; I still have mine, it’s a quarter wrapped in cellophane as my horse placed third in the 1979 Kentucky Derby. Face value = .25 but for me it is a cherished memory of a long ago childhood.

The tangible things, like my quarter, we touch, we see and they help to remind us of our yesterdays, but what about memories triggered by our sense of smell?  As a youth, I really did not enjoy the smell of Mr. Marko’s cigars, I was a kid after all 🙂 Sometime later in life, I really began enjoying the aroma.  I would be on the golf course and a buddy would light up and mmmm, that smell!  I began to realize that there was something more, something inside of me that was happening…a secure calm feel that was not really tied to any of my memories, or were they?  Here’s an excerpt from an article I found:

The Science Behind Sense of Smell and Scent Stimulation When we breathe in an aroma, the particles that make up the aroma are detected by the part of our brain that govern our sense of smell and emotions. Often, this has an instantaneous effect on our moods and emotions. Some experts tell us inhalation is the most direct route between the outside world and our brains.  http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro00/web2/Ito.html

I was truly blessed with a wonderful childhood and the aroma of a cigar only helps to remind me of those days. Do you have a scent that triggers such strong emotions? 

When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered· the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls· bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory –Marcel ProustThe Remembrance of Things Past

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