There are two kinds of remembering; one with the brain, and the second with the heart. We could not survive without the first, but it’s the second that reveals life’s wonder, and the meaning to it all.
Certain things like the dates of 1492, and 1776 are ‘drilled’ indelibly into our minds, right along with how to tie our shoes, ride a bicycle. scratching where we itch, blinking our eyes, comb our hair, moving quickly if we see danger coming, and all done almost without even thinking. That’s how the brain works.
But the second, the heart stuff, is an inner thing, and worlds away from the other. There’s nothing mechanical about it, for in the heart, though the years roll by, and we might think all events forgotten, all it takes is but a small hint, and the memories can overwhelm us as they tumble forth.
Just a bar or two off a certain song, and again I’m a girl of 18, in love, in love, in love. and I’m dancing under the stars at the open-roofed, Old Mill Club, at the ‘mouth’ of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and in the arms of a young man who later became my husband.
I know what I wore, who we were with, how my hair was ‘done’, and most of all, how I felt. And far beyond the confusion and problems of later years of school, work, home, jobs, teaching, having and raising kids, nothing has ever changed that moment.
And I’m sure you, as all of us, have caught a whiff of an aroma (not necessarily a perfume) and suddenly are miles and years away and are back to where that aroma was imprinted upon us.
I know a man who is taken back to Arlington’s third grade with Belva Doran (Murrayites will all remember her) as his Teacher, as soon as he smells, of all things, Olive Oil. Who knows why? But something must have touched him forcefully back then and the unique smell of that oil was present. He tells that his memory of that room automatically comes up, even today, as he ‘dresses’ that oil upon his salad.
We remember with our eyes. One of my sons has his Dad’s and his Grandfather’s hands, and one time my heart lurched as I saw those hands reach across the dinner table toward me, and for one micro-second was in another place. Taken back to a time before that son had even been dreamed of, much less born. Time is no barrier for the heart.
And there are the millions of memories that spring to life with our ears. The rustling sound made when walking through dry autumn leaves takes me back to an afternoon when a man and I strolled east on the leaf-covered sidewalk of South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, and at the same time I saw the Boarding House, made from one of those huge, old, Pioneer homes where we both Boarded. That man, and the large Boarding House are both long gone from my life, but the sound and smell of those leaves remain and take me back to South Temple street again.
Unexpectedly hearing the recorded voice of my husband, long after his death, was a heart breaker, as also, is the sound when a certain door closes in a soft slow manner that my heart once knew so well, and I jump, half expecting to see him again walk into the room.
I can close my eyes and, as I smell the unique aroma of dried Corn Stalks, (often on sale at Halloween time) I am again a child with my Dad, Carl Ohlin, out in the old Corn Field at 4500 So. 700 East, in Murray, Utah, as he cut and made stacks of those stalks, to augment the winter food he gathered for the horse and cows.
With the feel of soft, soft skin, I’m immediately bathing an infant child, and aware of long forgotten (I thought) emotions. And the sensitivity of the palm of our hands, takes me again when someone held my hand and slipped a ring upon my finger. Oh, you too???. The sensitivity of our palms is legendary and even used in some metaphysical ways..
Yes, there are two kinds of remembering, Our lives, our very survival, depends upon our brain, but it’s the heart that gives meaning to the wonderful, beautiful life He has blessed us with.