Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The nose knows.

Research has proven that smells conjure up memories. Not necessarily more accurate or more frequent than those brought on by sights or sounds, but they are more emotional.

It's true. Imagine looking at a photo of a someone who has passed on, and intellectually, in your head, you think thoughts and memories (good or bad) about them. Now imagine smelling a piece of their clothing. If you loved that particular person, you just close your eyes and sort of imagine the scent as an internal hug. (Or you shudder and screw up your facial expression if it was someone you have negative emotions for.)

One thing that really impacts me when riding the motorbike is the scent of the ride. You miss the emotion of travelling when you are locked in an airtight vehicle with the air conditioning blowing.

Nature somehow seems fuller when you experience it's scent. The forest, the fresh-cut hay, the ocean breeze, the musky dirt scent of a recently harvested potato field, visuals alone just don't allow you to fully appreciate them. Even the different exhaust smells - diesel, gas, new car, old car, burning oil, etc - kind of gives you a connection to the others who are sharing the road with you.

And skunk. Don't forget about the roadkill skunk. Even it is almost pleasurable on the bike. It's just a quick sniff to bring back childhood memories of traveling to visit my grandparents, and then it's gone. However, in the vehicle the scent gets sucked into the cab and you carry it along with you long enough for it to become a negative thing.

I think it was for this reason that on our last day of travel, Barbee bought me a little stuffed skunk as a memento of our trip. I think she saw the road kill as a bad thing. I, however, saw those dead animals as a blessing. They were dead and not standing on the road alive. Normally when we travel, it's exciting to see wildlife. On the bike, I have to say, "Thank you, God. We saw very few live animals." Encountering one on two wheels takes on a whole different perspective.

Okay, I will stop now because, as frequently happens, this blog entry has taken an entirely different direction than I intended when I first sat down to type.


1 comment:

elzee said...

How bizarre. I have to add this little afterword note.

A day or so after I wrote this blog entry, my boss handed me a health magazine with an article about the benefits of sauna use. I read it and then turned the page to find an article titled The Nose Knows. It starts out like this:

Smell is one of the most powerful senses and has the capacity to enhance all our other senses... But the most impressive impact of smell is that it has memory ...

I thought it was kind of funny.

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