Memory is a tricky thing. I know better now than to trust it, but still they remain, handprints in the gray cement of brain. Early impressions are some of the most deep: the sun on the top of my mom’s head as I ride in a backpack while she bikes. The swaying, the wind in my face, everything moving too fast to see.
I’m not frightened. I love the movement, the speed. I feel a profound sense of well being. Her hair is a dark nut brown, braided, glossy with sunshine. I reach my plump little hand, white and pink with indented knuckles, out to touch her hair. I sink both hands in, grabbing and feeling. Her hair is soft and feels as shiny as it looks. I am fascinated by the contast of colors, the textures, and the whole experience of this moment while the road races by.
She says something, and reaches back to untangle me. The moment passes. I'm less than two.
It's the first memory I have of bliss–a peak emotional experience that floods the brain with a cocktail of amazing natural feel-good chemicals.
Maybe this is when I fell in love with speed.
People ask me how I handle my job. 55 hour weeks doing therapy, a lot of it with children. Trauma. Autism. Abuse. Sad stories. Deep wounds. Things often don't get better. I keep trying. And when something doesn't work, I get creative. I never give up on a case or a family. But no one ever said it was easy.
First I breathe throughout the day. That really works, when I remember to do it.
And then, people, I confess. I speed.
I have an awesome car, finally, in my forties. And to de-stress from the day, I roll down the windows, open the sunroof, blast rock music, and drive fast on my way home from work. Last night, Adele sang Rolling in the Deep while I drove, the wind in my face, my hair a flying straight out of the top of the sunroof, sunset gilding the volcano.
I had the same feeling as that early memory, and I was just as blissed-out, a 100% chemical free high, and when I got home I'd forgotten all about the stress of the day and my cases. Maybe that's why Lei drives fast, and car chases feature heavily in my books. They say “write what you know”!
(For the safety conscious, speeding on Maui means going, like, 65. We don't get to go any faster around here due to speed limits and the narrow roads)
What physical sensations take you to another place?
Way back in the day, when I could still throw my leg over a horse without dying, I recollect cantering down a long path. There were other riders around but I didn’t see them. It was just me and the horse, a rare and wonderful thing that I’ll never be able to do again.
Later, I bought a motorbike and I’d ride just to – ride. Now I walk on the beach and soak it up. Yeah. I guess that all means something.
Greta, we are always all the time processing information through our senses. Some sensory experiences are so powerful they overtake all cognitiion. This is the kind that can truly “take you away.” I love the thought of a motorbike!
Warm apple pie served with vanilla ice cream heightens all of my senses and transports me back to the carefree days of youth when a bicycle and fireflys were enough.
Yummy! And my kids got to experience fireflies, they had formative years in Michigan while we went to college.
Love this, Toby. But gosh, 55 hours in your kind of work, that’s hard. No wonder you end up putting your foot down sometimes but your addendum did amuse me (and yes, I was relieved to read about the speed limiters!!)
I have two stress relievers at opposite ends of the spectrum. The first is to run, any speed works, but I notice that when I’ve got a lot on my mind, I actually run slower, mulling it all over. By the time I get back, I’m at a better place. The other is the piano and that never fails to de-stress. I never was a great player but these days I don’t get chance to practice so have to really concentrate when I play. It means my mind can’t wander and that’s why it works: total switch off.
I’m along your way of thinking. When I put the top down on my convertible, all the tension drains out of me. I love the heat of the day, and being near a body of water. I can’t say I have definitely memory of why the sensations relax me the way you do. I can’t recall the first time wind hit my face or the first time I felt sunlight. Maybe it’s the hidden memory of being cold in the hospital when I was born that makes heat and wind comforting.
Wonderful comment, thanks so much for sharing. Being cold… ah. That’s why I live in Hawaii!
I speed too.
Things that take me back:
Wriggly’s Spearamint gum, my mother always used to chew it. It reminds me of her purse and how I myself wanted a purse so I could hold gum and other wonders of the world in it.
The sound of coins jangling. They remind me of my dad. He used to always carry so much change in his pockets which he always shook. This is also the sound of keys.
People stretching, reminds me of my mother. She used to lay on her back with her feet in the air and stretch her legs.
Music. Music takes me away from the moment all the time. I have songs for everyone I’ve ever loved. And hated for that matter.
Wonderful to have you show up and comment, Tee. Great associations.
One of my peak emotional experiences happened on a riding holiday in Tuscany about 10 years ago, galloping uphill along the vineyards – a perfect blend of gorgeous scenery, sun on my skin, wind in my hair and the thrill of feeling the horse go full out.
Thanks for making me relive the memory. =)
I like your definition “peak emotional experiences”–intense sensations often play a part. Thanks for sharing, I pictured you there!
I love this. Just love it.