Connections are a uniquely personal thing that often lead to unforgettable moments and memories. Scents are no different in this aspect, as they hold the key to many of our memories that we aren’t even aware of. Fragrances are the intricately woven tapestry that holds both our memories and emotions together in a glorious song that we know the rhythm to, yet the words need to be revealed when we experience it. Our sense of smell is the ballad on the radio that touches our soul to its core and we long to resonate with it.
In the scientific world, our olfactory system has a uniquely vivid memory. They believe this is because most of these echoes of our past are mostly forgotten instances that our brain put on the backburner. So, when we smell something that is from our past, the recollections come rushing to the front. The evocations are intense and the vast majority of the time we know exactly what it is. However, as with all things that deal with memory, sometimes we cannot grasp it to the extent that we would prefer. We only get a tiny inkling of the feeling, but we want more. We want to figure out what the secret holds. We want to figure out how to unlock ourselves and learn more. We are curious beings by nature, so chasing the mystery can be just as enjoyable as the recollection itself.
The magic of Christmas has never faded for me, even in my adult life. The joyous warm hearth that contrasts with the bitter chill outside has a tendency to remind us to be thankful for life. I personally think of Calvin Klein Obsession for Men when I see those glistening colorful lights.
It is Christmas to me, with its dusty warm cinnamon-baked amber. The cleanliness of powdered lavender contrasts with a dollop of sweet vanilla and balsamic myrrh to create a fragrance that is reminiscent of apple pie during autumn, and warming yourself by a fireplace. The sheer emotional connection I have with this fragrance makes me literally stop what I am doing and appreciate it.
The dog days of summer usher in some of the most miserable ways possible, yet we can certainly recall the smell of the grass, sticky skin, and the warmth of the sun. Tommy for Men represents this for me, as it was my signature scent in high school. The pillow-cotton accord with juicy grapefruit and crisp apple are evocative of a sunny summer day spent on a grassy field. The feeling of drinking chlorinated water from the hosepipe, at a “4th of July” barbeque, is my lucid memory of Tommy. Summer days always seem so much cooler looking back on them!
My reason for sharing these souvenirs with you is that these connections are crucial to us, even if we don’t understand why. They recall some of our greatest triumphs, and even sometimes our most beneficial lessons. They contain our own history and remind us of where we came from. At the same time, they are also indicators of how far we can soar in the future when we juxtapose them with what we have learned through the trials of life.
Of course, memories are not the only way to form a bond with fragrances. Some folks are simply in awe with the beautiful nuanced story that gives us a view into the perfumer’s mind and perspective. They liken them to a puzzle, readily available to be dissected and critiqued. These artistic people revel in the complex veneer of each subtle aroma.
I often feel that association myself. In a sense, I am able to paint a picture or tell a story simply by smelling something. I have no actual proof of this, but I do believe that many perfumers think about fragrances in the same technical way. They want people to reflect on their work and offer a glimpse of the expression that they meticulously crafted.
How do you connect with fragrances? I can personally identify with parts of each of these. There is no right or wrong answer. We all have our scent memories and we can recall associations with certain smells, yet some of these can be more intense than others. Is this because our mind had to dig out these echoes from deep in our sub-consciousness? There is still so much that we don’t understand about our olfactory sense and how it impacts us. However, I would say that we can understand the reasoning more when it personally relates to us. It’s simply a wonderfully complex result of our complex biological systems and it’s a marvel to explore.