“Christmas just doesn’t work out for me…” (Polar Express, 2004)
This quote comes from the character Billy, talking to Hero Boy and Hero Girl in the observation car in the movie “The Polar Express”.
The sights and sounds of a season are upon us. It’s the fall. Leaves are falling. Snow is coming. Retailers are already stocking Christmas. And yet, I feel uneasy.
The senses of fall are gone. Gone are the fallen leaves, crisp breeze and the images of hayrides, pumpkin carving, and corn mazes. I can smell the aroma of pumpkin spice but it feels like it’s only thin air. I would like them back – all the senses. I just don’t know how. I see yet I do not believe. I listen yet I do not hear. Year after year the sights and sounds of one holiday give way to another.
Christmas hasn’t been much of anything – in a very long time. I’ve had a sense of a feeling I’d like to experience over Christmas – but I haven’t felt it for over a decade. I want to get it back. I’ve wanted to get it back for a long time. I just don’t know how. I hear Christmas music but I do not feel it. I see the sights of store fronts, I smell the aroma of cookies baking, and yet…nothing. Christmas day comes and goes each year like the feel of sand falling through my fingers.
For a few seasons I tried to remedy this in a place with sand – Santa Monica. I would travel to Santa Monica each year for 3 weeks of Christmas and New Years to serve the homeless. I did this because I felt if I was alone I might as well spend my time serving others who were alone. Even this memory has sifted through my fingers like the very sand I stood on those many years ago.
The feel of sand is just one sense I can draw an illustration from. Senses are very powerful and are believed to be tied to memory.
“The senses can very clearly and touchingly evoke memories from our past, freeing positive emotions like pleasure or happiness, or negative ones like fear or anger. A song can remind us of a special moment with a special person, or of a trip with friends. A landscape can take us back to the memories of our adolescence and what we experienced in a certain place.” (Exploring Your Mind, 2022).
Smells and sounds can be powerful and lead to powerful memory retrieval.
“Marcel Proust reflected that “the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, ready to remind us… the immense edifice of memory”. It’s a familiar phenomenon: a single smell or sound has the power to conjure up entire scenes from the past.” (Hopkin, 2004)
Perhaps the sensations I encounter lead to nowhere or perhaps the memories I have that they would lead to are repressed, broken, or memories that do not produce a desirable result when being recalled. Perhaps they lead to a place of disappointment.
Maybe one day they may even lead somewhere new. I don’t know.
The memories evoked by our five senses. Exploring your mind. (2022, July 28). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://exploringyourmind.com/memories-evoked-five-senses/
Hopkin, M. Link proved between senses and memory. Nature (2004). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1038/news040524-12
Zemeckis, R. (2004). The Polar Express. Warner Bros.