A few years back, I saw a news story about the power of music. Many people, who are in the midst of dementia and senility, were typically unresponsive to normal stimulation. People would try to communicate with them, asking how they were doing, or what they needed, but didn’t’ receive coherent responses. Communication with people in these states was very limited. Once perhaps brilliant and vibrant minds are now just a shell of their former selves, which breaks the heart.
In many instances, when hearing a song they loved, these individuals came to life. Once an individual unresponsive would become alive, singing and dancing with joy when hearing a song they loved. Often times, they would also sing along. The transformation was not permanent, but the vivid memories and feelings overpowered their current mental state.
Such is the power of sensory memory. I can’t fathom the inner workings of the brain; the complexity is far beyond our abilities to comprehend at the moment. Maybe when the Singularity comes along… Regardless, the power of sensory memory can be vivid. Something audible, tasted, or felt can transform someone back in an instant.
Butterscotch candy is not something I typically eat, let alone buy. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought some, but it has a special place in my heart. A recent trip to visit my dad brought this memory to light. Seeing some there, I decided to have one. Memories flooded back into me in an instant.
I can remember visiting my grandparents. I close my eyes and can hear the loud buzzing of the crickets, cicadas, or whatever they were. I remember the circular driveway that we raced Grandma and Grandpa’s three wheeler bikes, often attaining two wheeled riding in spite of the design limitations. I recall the sound of the door opening and closing as all of us kids would always be on the move, going inside and outside with a steady stream. We would often raid the butterscotch and grab some Juicy Fruit gum that was atop the refrigerator.
A torrent of these memories came back in an instant. Many of these I haven’t given much thought of in quite a while, but I felt the warmth of love and family. For a brief moment, my grandparents were alive and well, as well as my mom, who would do her best to keep us on good behavior. Although butterscotch is not particularly something I crave, as a kid, there was candy to be had, and that was good enough.
As we work and raise families, and as we move into the future, take a moment or two to bring alive some good memories of youth and family. Visit a special place, listen to an old favorite song, or eat an old family dish. In my case, I’ll take a piece of butterscotch and Juicy Fruit, and savor the memories of days gone by.