Today I started to write a post about my love of the smell of fresh lumber, but the words felt familiar. I looked up previous blogs and saw that I wrote about this same exact thing in May! Of this year! Covid brain? Maybe. But what about this:
Coming out of the shower at my sister’s house, the shower rod came crashing down to the floor. In the restroom of a museum later that day, I locked myself in the stall and could only get out by crawling under the door. And after my book talk, I walked out of the building into a downpour, having left my rain jacket and umbrella in the car.
Now, I know some of these things are not my fault. One is mine, one is the museum’s and one is my sister’s. (Just kidding, Judy!)
But as I approach a big birthday this month, I can’t help but notice things changing. Like getting aggravated over minor setbacks. Like middle-aged people calling me “sweetheart,” and holding out a hand for me on the stairs.
Some are funny, most are just little glitches in my otherwise charmed life. Charmed because I know how privileged I am to have a car, rain jacket and umbrella. And money to put gas in it. To have written and published books people like, to have hot water and indoor toilets. I could go on and so could you.
So when Carol Ann came up to me at my book talk, and I saw her big brown eyes above her Covid mask, and heard her voice, I flashed back to the lumberyard on the corner of her street. We met there to walk to school together, and that memory of joy and friendship and the promise of our young lives got all mixed up with the smell of fresh two by fours in my mind.
And today I wanted to write about it again. To revisit that memory and savor it. Rick Hanson has studied how we can actually rewire our nervous systems so that we don’t cling to negative news, as we evolved to do in the early days on earth, and to take in the good instead, savoring it with all our senses. Smell is an especially evocative one, I find. But so are sight, touch and taste. Perhaps this is another way to be mindful in this world of distractions.
So as I flash back to high school, forget my umbrella, or lock myself in a bathroom stall, I plan to not dwell on these experiences, and instead savor good things like surprise meetings with old friends. And the smell of two by fours.
I also plan to get some good writing out of it. And laugh at myself, too. I really am a sweetheart.
What memory can you savor? I’d love to know in the comments!
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