Scent and Memory
It sometimes amazes me how much of an effect some smells have on me.
I know they say that smell is the sense with the closest ties to memory, but sometimes it’s surprising that the memories come with a depth of feeling that you wouldn’t believe possible until you experience them.
Of course, a lot of us have the memory triggers from certain perfumes or shampoos or what have you that remind us of our first love (I know that I do). However, I have some that a lot of people would consider odd.
A lot of my childhood involved training in martial arts – first kung fu and then European and Japanese sword arts. Sometimes I think they were the happiest times in my life until I met my first love.
As a result, two of my major scent triggers (other than the aforementioned shampoo, perfume, and makeup) are well worn leather and cosmoline (gun grease).
Of course, the leather comes into play because of my harnesses, belts, baldrics, scabbards and gloves (who would ever guess all of the straps and things you have to wear). The deep, musky smell of leather gloves or baldrics which have had the dyes cured into them by the sweat of your body is just somehow very intoxicating (and a darn site more pleasant than the black and blue stains the leather leaves on your hands and chest before the dyes have been locked in by the salt – ask Karyl about the screaming blue hands).
There are probably, however, some people who are wondering what gun lube has to do with martial arts. The answer is simple – good carbon steel blades will rust if they’re not properly lubricated and I try not to buy blades that I wouldn’t be willing to use anymore (which means that they’re all good carbon steel blades).
The same was true of my sifu and my other teachers, so I have a lot of memories that involve the smell of well worn leather and cosmoline. It reminds me of times with the grass beneath my feet and the wind ruffling my hair and fighting robes, blade in hand, standing lightly and waiting to respond to the situation facing me. It’s a very serene feeling that I think more people should be able to experience.
It’s the place where you simultaneously loose yourself and find yourself, and I have to say that it gives you a different perspective on a lot of things.
It was enough of an influence on me that, after the relationship with my ex ended, my style of dress changed as well – back to one more reminiscent of my training clothing. Simple, comfortable, flowing shirts and pants that were almost monk-like in style (Loose black semi button up shirts with no appreciable collar and loose black pants).
I spent a lot of time at the lake training and meditating. It was my way to find myself again. Amusingly it also frequently got me accused of looking like a monk, a priest, or a mercenary.
What brought up this trip down memory lane? Taking care of my blades, of course. After all, I don’t want them to rust. I have too much respect for them to do that. Ask any of the fencers I chided for not taking care of their equipment while I was teaching them in college.
Current mood: tired
Current music: Papa Roach – Forever