Memories and our senses

Diary and old photograph with a lilac flower laid on top
Old diary and photo album with a lilac flower laid over at an angle.

Have you ever had one of those moments where your senses whisk you back in time? It is like you can smell, taste, and feel where you were and who you were with.

This happened to me recently. I was scrolling through the films on Disney Plus and there it was, ‘10 things I hate about you’. Hearing the audio description read out the title immediately sent me down memory lane. I pressed play and watched this classic, a firm favourite of mine and a late friend.

For those who haven’t seen it, it stars a young Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. It was released in 1999 when I was 17, now that feels like a long time ago! A close friend who I attended my first music festival with, introduced me to the film. I couldn’t tell you how many times we watched it together that year, but the one liners became part of our everyday language. I was certainly crushing on Heath after that.

The film is an all-American teen romantic comedy with the usual popular group, nerdy group and the troubled teenagers. My friend and I thought we were like the two sisters Cat and Bianca, one popular, the other grunge and too cool for school. The popular sister wanted to date but her father said she couldn’t unless her older sister dated too. This was a conundrum as she didn’t date, that was until Heath came along! The film is about how they came together through a bet and fell in love. There are lots of comedy moments and it covers some serious subjects such as bullying.

The lead character reminds me of my late friend. She was alternative, loved rock music and wanted to be that punk rocker girl. She’d wear pink and punk clothing. I remember us buying trousers with tassels all down the side and buckles, she wore them a lot better than me! When we watched the film, she always said she wanted a car like Cat’s blasting her music with the windows down. There is no doubt that she would have driven her car like that but she passed away at 20 before she took her driving test.

I couldn’t watch the film for a long time but stumbling on it out of the blue I found comfort in every scene.

Watching the film this time by listening, I was so grateful for my senses and how they enable

I couldn’t watch the film for a long time but stumbling on it out of the blue I found comfort in every scene. I remembered all the wonderful times we shared and how this film brought us closer together. That is the thing about memories, they can be triggered anywhere and by anything. Taking the time to heal and work through upsetting memories is so important and enables you to hold on to the good times.

Some practices discourage looking back and ask you to focus on the here and now. This has its place but I often find that I have to go back in order to be present and move forward. If I don’t there will always be a pull that hinders my growth.

I know and accept that I am on a continuous journey and part of this is to find peace with past wounds. It is hard but it is enabling me to grow as a person. It is now easier for me to reminisce about the more difficult times.

Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful connections to the hippocampus, the memory part of the brain. If one of our senses is stimulated to trigger a memory, then other memories that feature other senses start firing up. This explains why when I watched the film my hearing sense reacted, and my friend came to mind and I could smell and taste warm popcorn which we used to eat by the gallon. I kept a jumper and bag that belonged to my friend which I would smell to feel close to her and this would flood me with memories.

Watching the film, this time by listening, I was so grateful for my senses and how they enable me to reminisce and remember. I guess that is what I am trying to share in this post. Our senses are amazing and if we let them, they can become a powerful healing tool.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my memories. What was the last memory your senses triggered? Please share in the comments below. I hope they are nice ones but if anything comes up that is uncomfortable, please do seek out a friend or a professional to talk them through with.

Sending love,

Nina XX


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