An Olfactory Memory Opens New Thoughts

Stormy skies in Alabama

Autumn is in the air - I can smell it. Olfactory memories are probably the sharpest ones I experience. A certain smell will whisk me away from the present moment, and I'll land, confusingly, at a crossroads of intermingled thoughts. Often, it is not a distinctive memory I have; rather, a feeling - or the memory of a feeling. Now and then a memory will be locatable in time with varying precision. And then, the more confusing part: an olfactory memory of an olfactory memory. Two places in time, interwoven, tangled. Our minds are such complex places!

This morning I was partly here and partly somewhere in 2010, by the Thames - sometime later I was projected to a different country and more than a decade back in time. A memory I had not accessed previously through smell. It was all so new, so different - I feel different. This time in my life is strange and exciting, and new, all so new - it is as if I am on a bridge between my teen years and my future - I am growing and I've reached a new level.

I've always been fascinated by our minds, but also often confused with my own - specifically those moments of strong emotion linked to smell - those moments where I am lost in time and become different parts of me at once. Today, however, it was different. I felt as though I could see growth - as though I could pinpoint the moment I'd moved another step forward. I felt a change. And then, a thought, an idea. As I experienced a snatch of my past, the beginnings of a poem came to me.

Suddenly, I felt like I had gained some control over the tangled mess of memory and feeling - I could create from it. It still is a confusing thing to experience, but it is as though now I am not in all those times at once. I've moved once more, and it is an exciting, and slightly scary, time in my life.

Have you ever experienced something similar after your teen years?


  1. Hi!
    I love the title for the post!:)
    And yes, I did experience something of that sort around the time I finished high school. I didn't think it strange then, after reading this I can see how such memories have strange effects.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! It is rather strange, isn't it, how memories work! I find that music also can cause flashbacks. :)


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