Charcoal lighter fluid, chlorine, fresh cut grass. What do you automatically think of? Well, maybe it does sound like the beginnings of a drug lab, but the answer I was looking for was summer. Pencil shavings, floor polish, cafeteria. This one is easier … school. I smell the Jr. high PE locker room and popcorn at basketball games just thinking about school.

Our five sense connect us with the world. Some people are gifted with perfect eyesight. I’m sure chefs have a highly refined sense of taste whether gifted or developed. I feel like my keen sense of smell sometimes gets me in trouble. My memory automatically links events, people and places to the way they smell. Consequently I can catch a whiff of something and memories roll in like the tide.

Jill and I were shopping in the mall and she stopped at a Merle Norman cosmetics store to pick up a lipliner. While she was deciding on color, I wandered over to the tester jars and picked up the cold cream. I unscrewed the lid, stuck my nose in the jar and took a deep breath. Unbelievable! I could almost feel my mom and instantly tears streamed down my face. I could see myself sitting on her bed watching her put on makeup. Precious, tucked-away memories. I was jarred back to the present when I heard Jill stop the sales clerk who had excused herself to check on the woman in the corner who seemed distraught. Jill rolled her eyes, grinning and said, “Oh that’s just my mom. She’s fine. She does this all the time.”

Jill thanked the clerk for her help as we left the store and I apologized for causing concern. I felt like someone out on a day pass.

Memories can be stirred by our senses in a heartbeat. Just like someone leaves a vapor trail wearing too much cologne we leave an impression on people every day with our words and attitudes. Are you whiff of joy, integrity, and compassion or do you stink things up with anger, jealousy and greed? What memories are you building and how will they smell ten years from now?

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