Associations

Many years ago, I began using men’s deodorant/antiperspirants.  Trust me, not everything about me is feminine and delicate.  The thing is, though, I could not necessarily tell you the brand that I use.  When it’s time to restock, I walk down the aisle until I recognize the package by coloring and design.  This no-memory/no-stress approach has not been an issue until recently.  As I tossed the old container and reached for the new, I noticed that these were two different brands.  No big deal.  If it works, it works.  The “issue” began some days later.  It has a particular manly scent, but that’s no big deal either.  However, I’ve just come to realize that that particular manly scent reminds me of a friend.  So everyday when I shower and dress and reapply this manly scent, I am reminded of my friend.  And all day long, I am reminded of my friend.  As it happens then, that friend is on my mind quite often.  No big deal.  It is a bit disconcerting to realize I have associated a particular scent to a particular friend, especially since it is deodorant.  It’s not like I go around smelling everyone’s pits.  However, being just 4’10” does put in me in prime position.

There is another particular scent that has a random association for me.  It is a dishwashing liquid.  The scent always brings to mind a visual of a kitchen in the UK where I lived for a wee bit.  I think the brands may be different, but the memory of the kitchen with the open windows and cool breezes and bright sunshine floods my mind and heart each time I smell that particular scent.  No big deal.  Part of my heart will always be in the UK.

Unfortunately, not all associations are positive.  Many public restrooms use brown paper towels.  When I smell wet brown paper towels, I immediately recall being in elementary school and being nauseous.  You see, I often fell and frequently suffered a concussion.  I would wake up in the nurse’s office with wet brown paper towels being used to wipe my brow or used to clean me up after a volatile reaction to the concussion.  So now, after drying my hands on a brown paper towel, I can suddenly become nauseous from the smell.  No big deal.  I know what’s going on and it passes quickly.

I know that it is common to have associations with particular sights, sounds, flavors, smells and other senses.  I do find the three mentioned above to be strange for the three items in themselves are quite insignificant in life in general.  Who really notices these things?

Associations become a big deal, though, when it interferes with our ability to love and be loved, to trust and to be trusted, to live joyfully and to enjoy life.  Associations become a big deal when something that was originally meant for good becomes twisted into something painful and dangerous and we are robbed of the purpose and pleasure intended.  Members of the opposite sex become our arch enemy.  Sex becomes a bargaining tool.  A family member becomes someone to fear.  Children are regarded as things that hold us back and keep us from happiness.  We often read accounts of how we view our own bodies with negative associations and we go to extremes to change them.  What was meant for good becomes twisted and is instead used against us.

So too is our faith and the Person some hold most sacred.
So too is our hope and the strength that it gives us.
So too is our heart and the Love that it longs for.

Hold fast to that which is good and protect it with all your might because it is worth it.
Fight to regain that which was good that has been stolen and replaced with something evil, because you are worth it.
Be diligent and be wise in all things so as not to become the source that robs or the source of negative association, because they are worth it.

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