Songs and smells
For me, it’s the smell of mince. Every time I walk into a house that has mince on the go, I am transported back to winter evenings coming back from school.
Mum would have the mince and potatoes (we were posh Fife, we never said ‘tatties’) just about ready. As soon as Dad came back from work, it was plated up, and the smell went right through the house.
So, l’odeur de la viande hachéehas always meant home. For you, a variety of songs, smells, sights, sounds might bring back feelings and events all mixed together. It’s a powerful, sometimes overwhelming experience.
Everything comes at once
Mathias Énard’s novel ‘Zone’ is an interesting read. Written mostly in one long sentence (I know, when do you take a break?), it consists mostly of the ‘random’ thoughts and emotions of Francis Mirković, previously of the French Intelligence Service,as he travels on a train from Milan to Rome.
As the countryside rushes past, his mind jumps between rational commentary, reflection, raw emotion, nostalgia, and black humour. Flipping between fascination, sympathy and horror, you are irresistibly drawn into this man’s life as he hurtles towards what he believes will finally give some meaning to him and everything that has happened.
Most of us won’t have had the extreme experience of the protagonist, but we’ve all heard the hundreds of voices, felt the deluge of memories, and pictured the kaleidoscope of mental images that come to us as soon as we day dream or have a moment’s quiet.
Each of them brings their mixture of hopes and fears, regrets and triumphs. Each is connected to, and leads into, the other. But how do they all fit together?
A Mixed Bag
Human beings are not just rational, nor just emotional, nor just imaginative. Our feelings are not just to be rationalized, nor are our thoughts just the raw material for pop songs. They are everything at once.
Purpose pulls us together and directs all that we are. That’s why espousing causes and getting behind campaigns helps people overcome contradictions in their own lives and relate to others in a meaningful way.
For believers, that ultimate purpose comes from God who calls us to reach seemingly ridiculous conclusions, but the only ones that finally make any sense.
In this Sunday’s gospel, we hear the Lord, a carpenter by trade, telling experienced fishermen to put out into the wrong bit of the lake at the wrong time of day. They do it, though, and then…well, see what happens. Read Luke 5, 1-11, and put yourself in their shoes (or waders).