smells like yesterday

Smells Like Yesterday

What is it about the smell of fresh cut grass that brings us to our knees? And how does the rare scent of Brut or Hai Karate slam me back to high school PE as if I were actually time travelling? The simple answer is that the part of the brain which processes smells is on a direct path to the limbic/emotional brain. This knowledge has spawned an industry around using smell as a persuasive tool to create emotional responses that support our experiences and our decisions. There are companies which are creating brand scents for hotels, stores and buildings. Some movie theatres have played with today’s version of Smell-O-Vision to hype our movie going experience.

As this Discovery article describes, it’s possible that memories themselves are actually trapped inside the olfactory bulb and readily available to transport us back in time so immediately and authentically.

Seeing old photos or films gives us that sense of history and nostalgia, as does old music that “takes us back” but nothing compares to the visceral hit of smells. I have one in particular which is the opposite of nostalgia and I caught a whiff of it early this morning. It was a lovely, sunny, going to be hot kind of morning and there was a breeze coming in the windows off the ocean. It’s like the smell of the air before a storm, signaling that big things are coming and in my olfactory bulb it smells like potential. Like anything could happen. There’s a scent I’d love to bottle — unlimited possibilities, and hope.

Joanna Piros