Has This Ever Happened To You?

It was extraordinary, something I’ll remember for quite a while. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at home, on a weekend I think. I was reading (something historical would be a good guess). As I read, for some unknown reason, a memory of a smell flashed in my mind. At the very same instant–probably no more than a second in length–I had a clear recollection of a place and event long ago in my life that had been linked to the smell. Then, in far less time than it took me to write these lines to you, it was gone. All that was left to me was a memory of a memory, of a smell and aroma and the thing in my past life that was part of it.

I sat in my chair. Stunned. What stunned me was the awareness and the certainty that there were likely hundreds, if not thousands, of these smell memories locked in my brain. They’re there. I know it. I just don’t have access to the key. It’s an inspiring, awe-inducing realization.

And maybe it’s best that the key isn’t available to me. Maybe it’s God’s way (or fate’s, if you’re offended by the reference) of protecting me from an overwhelming flood of memories that could drown me. Maybe the thing is that I’ll get the key at some later time. Perhaps on the point of passing from this life?

At any rate. I wonder if you’ve had a similar experience. For me, it’s sobering, reassuring, mind-boggling, all at the same time. It’s another expression of the power and ever-presence of history.