Grab the Sparks

Life is composed of memorable moments; I call them sparks. They can be both good and not so good memories. When you tune in with all your senses to these moments you encode them into your memory, and they shine more brightly than the lull of the everyday. They are out of the ordinary and they begin to define your story. You probably don’t remember what you wore to school on a Tuesday when you were in 5th grade...unless it is attached to a memory that is extraordinary.

Here are some training tips that will help you define and encode significant moments. As you become better at practicing these cues you will find yourself creating special memories and they will become a part of your story.

Photographs or visual cues will prompt other memories.

From a school photograph you see what you were wearing that day, the faces of your classmates will trigger other memories and you will find yourself experiencing physical sensations that may transport you back to that time.

Smells activate a primal memory.

Smell can trigger a cascade of memories. The smell of one of your favorite foods cooking may awaken feelings of joy or nurturing. The stories of what various smells activate is a powerful tool for creating. I remember the smell of the oil paints in my great aunt’s studio and this brings back fond memories of painting with her.

Sounds or songs may transport you back to a younger age.

Teenagers bond with their peers over music and the song will carry memories of love lost and found, friendships and adventures. It doesn’t even have to be a song. I remember leaning out my bedroom window as a teenager, feeling the nighttime breeze blowing on my face and listening to a distant train whistle. The sound awakened my dreams of adventure and travel. I have traveled extensively in my life and I am often transported back to those evenings when I felt that youthful hope and longing.

Touch is considered the first sense that humans develop even in the womb.

Children are especially sensitive to various sensations of touch. The soft fur of a kitten or the cold tile floor. Memories are filled with sensations of touch. What are some of your memories of touch? I remember the cool water on a hot day, the soft warmth of a blanket on a cold day and I can identify many plants by touch.

Taste is closely linked with smell.

Salty tastes arouse a feeling very different than sweet and combining the two can evoke a fond memory, or not. As a kid you probably had your favorite candy or treat and the taste of a snow cone or an ice cream is tied up with memories of summer. I have a memory of hearing the ice cream truck chime and the kids all running out to get in line to buy a treat. The summer days, the taste of the sweet treat, playing with friends, a feeling of freedom and joy. As I recall all the sensations I am transported back in time.