Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Senses, Memory, and Building Metaphor

In our universe, there is an infinite number of possibilities, some filled with mystery, others well known, and again some to remain finite.   However, our five senses are majestic in their power to drive our emotions far beyond what is just a simple mindset.  As a writer, I often have to dwell on emotions in order to convey them in metaphor, thus what is written becomes a complete memory and not just a simple fragmented thought.

A dear friend and fellow writer sent me an audio recording yesterday of him talking in his slow southern drawl, about the sound of a slow rain across a tin roof and how it invoked past memories of his mother Pearl and her once notoriety as a singer in early radio.   As he continued, he made a metaphor of the sound alone "is like the crackling of a campfire".  Anyone who has been camping in their life knows that sound, late at night, when there is the dead silence, where it's only you, the sounds of the forest, and that crackling of a campfire; those who are city dwellers-- or those from the north may not have heard the sound of a slow rain across a tin roof.   It is a mesmerizing sound; so loud that it will overwhelm the senses.  "A man can get plain lost in that sound" as my dear friend had so eloquently expressed.

As a young child, I remember my mother taking me across the deep south, across Alabama, into Mississippi, and eventually ending up near Biloxi, on the Delta.  We were visiting her old friends, and family members that I haven't seen since.  Most of whom, when I was a child were already in their 70's and lived in old Southern, rural homes.   I have fond memories of those times, but alas the only sound I truly remember is the amazing sound of rain on the tin roofs.  The soft, slow, and steady rain wraps your mind around a peacefulness, and a hard storm, creates a drowning roar, that can consume every worldly thought.

As a teenager, once moving formally to the Deep South to live with my father and my beloved step mother MK.  I had already come to realize how music was more than a dream that I wanted to play professionally, but I deeply loved how the sound of a particular song could evoke deeply held emotions, and a resonating longing toward almost any kind of personal nostalgia.  However, at this age is where moving from the city to a new place in the south, I became aware of another sense that became one almost as captivating.

During the summer in central Georgia, the dusk is an amazing time.  It releases all the smells from the heat of the day, as if the long grass were a type of pie in an oven, and just as sweet.   It permeates the air, consuming the mind and body, and still to this day, when I return there, the smells instantly fill my mind of that happy youthful time when riding in the back of a truck wasn't considered dangerous, driving tractors (as I grew up on a horse ranch) was a daily occurrence, and sitting on the porch playing blues on my guitar with my next door neighbors in my first apartment I had at 17.  I mention that time, because my first apartment was in a poverty stricken area in Warner Robins, Georgia. I was the minority in this predominantly African-American neighborhood, but as people sat on their front porches, I would bring my guitar outside, play some 12 bar blues, and this old man, probably in his mid 70's would play harmonica.   We kept our neighbors consumed, singing & dancing, and it was probably one of my most memorable times at that age.  Even now, thinking of that smell of the grass deep in my nose reveals so many memories, I wouldn't be able to capture them all here if I tried, but it warms my heart with a whirlwind of all that was at that time.

It is phenomenal to me that how the slightest sense of one immediately becomes the sense of another.  For me, the smells and sounds instantly bring back visual memories of a time that was much more simple, less the digital and wireless leashes that tie us to our occupations.

In 1991, traveling back to Virginia Beach after being away in Georgia for a little over a year and a half.  As I entered the state and began getting closer to the mouth of the James River; I could smell the salt of the ocean as if I were a long time mariner pining for the calm of the still waters, but still weeping the emotions of the amazing power that is the sea.

It was during this time I had had a deeper longing for my first true love, one that would play a true game of attrition with me over the next 20 plus years of my life.  Many people hold dear to their passions for the past, or the people whom have helped shape their life.  She was absolutely no exception to this rule.  In later years it would prove fatal to many other relationships of mine, mostly due to the jealous nature of others and their propensity in belief that everyone is at heart dishonest.  Sadly, that is untrue and jealousy simply distorts reality.

In the late summer of 1994, I returned to Georgia where I had went to high school, and reconnected with my first love.  Her touch was as soft as the autumn winds, caressing each leaf, whispering on the air in a careless flow of acrobatics, and then at last returning to the ground to become stable with only the memory of a time when life was more carefree. Moment to moment we live on the touch of others in our lives.   I was fortunate that she impacted my life in such an amazing way in those formative years.  Perhaps it was the innocence of the time, but moreover it allowed me to appreciate the other people I have had in my life since and possibly in a more equitable way.

Love and hope are two of the most under estimated emotions.  They both miraculously have the ability to make, or break a persons spirit.  We can easily wrap our entire consciousness in our 5 senses.  Just like the taste sugar or salt on our lips; our memories glide back and forth swinging from memory to heartbreak like Newtons cradle, exhibiting the 3rd law of physics as if each memory was as physical as the neurons that shift from receptor to receptor in our brain.

Not every memory we carry is one filled with pleasant nostalgia, but often many memories can swing us to the darker times when mourning the loss of a relationship or loved one is as devastating as the initial grief that created the memory.  We are a complicated species after all, but the only one on this planet capable of deeper reasoning.

Your life is an amazing story, one you control with each of your five senses, even being born with or now living without, another skill will always present itself, and bind your passions into a physical manifestation of neurons in a wisp inside your brain.  It will, after all leave an indelible mark on your life.  If all the time you had left on this planet was today, would your last thoughts be a memory worth dying for? You have at least 5 senses-- don't waste them or the small amount of time you get to experience what they are capable of.

The most terrible mistake one can make is to delay what you want to do in your life with the presumption you'll have time to do it later.

©2013 Christian's Theory

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