I’m always amazed by how my mind can leap from one thought to the next. I could be floating in my own world when suddenly something has transported me to a new place or more often somewhere from my past. It doesn’t matter where I am. I could be looking out a window or watching a sunset when random thoughts enter my mind for no apparent reason.
I find it rather incredible how much storage there is in our brain but I often wonder:
Why do these memories resurface?
Where do these thoughts come from?
Well if you thought I had the answers, you would be wrong. However, I do believe our mind recalls certain things for a reason. Maybe not everything has an intended purpose, but perhaps more does versus does not. Apparently, my very unscientific theory may be true based on an article I read: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mind-pops/.
In most cases, mind-pops seem completely irrelevant to the moments in time and thought into which they intrude. But Kvavilashvili is discovering that mind-pops are not truly random—they are linked to our experiences and knowledge of the world, albeit with hidden threads. Research on mind-pops is preliminary, but so far studies suggest that the phenomenon is genuine and common.
It can be fun to be reminded of something from our past, assuming the memory is a pleasant one. Of course, we can deliberately force a memory when looking at a photo album or reading an old letter. But it’s those out of the blue, totally random memories that appear with no obvious logic that fascinate me the most, and apparently, I am not alone. A quick google search revealed pages and pages of ideas and papers written by the psychology community about random thoughts or mind-pops. For me and likely you, mind pops are often triggered by a song, a person or even something as simple as a particular color. Here’s a definition of mind-pops. Mind Pops are fragments of knowledge, such as words, images or melodies that drop suddenly and unexpectedly into consciousness.
Is it wrong to dismiss these mind-pops or do we have an obligation to heed them as some sort of opportunity?
There have been times when I have responded to these thoughts. Perhaps I’ll search for a person on Facebook and see if there’s some connection worth pursuing. Typically I let the moment pass but if something is lingering in my mind, I’ll consciously think or pray for that person and then move on. It is strange though and I’m wondering if we should be doing more. Don’t you think we are connected to people in ways we do not fully understand? I believe that is the case. We tend to process life through our five senses but the subconscious world, which often seems like a bottomless ocean, is a mystery unto itself.
Some recurrent mind-pops for me stem from experiences and places that were once very dear. A perfect example of this is whenever I smell pine trees it always takes me back to Camp Spofford in New Hampshire. Camp Spofford was a very special place for me and my family. As soon as I stepped onto the needle-covered ground, you can’t help but inhale the smell of pine trees. Another example might be a blustery day. If the air has a particular crisp quality and the wind is blowing in a certain manner, I’m transported to a field in Norway at my grandparent's farm as depicted in the picture above. Sights, sounds and, smells conjure up so many memories and it just takes a little trigger to rediscover a past place and time.
I feel sad for those that have memories that are less than pleasant. I think of those in the military, 9/11 or someone that has witnessed or experienced trauma in one way or another. It must be rather difficult to get past the random, unwarranted triggers. I suppose that’s when we have to learn to cope with our past and try to reconcile those events so when the triggers come, one can refuse to enter into that dark place.
I’m sure all of us have looked at a seascape, a mountain or a city skyline and the memories come flooding into our current reality. It is fun to daydream once in a while and go back to another place and time. I hope the triggers that pop into your mind are ones that cause you to smile a little or chuckle or even motivate you to pick up the phone and call that person you’ve been meaning to speak with for some time. Maybe these random thoughts are not random at all but sent to us as a means to prompt us into action. Maybe it’s our subconscious telling us to act. I believe we are more than physical beings. Our mind is so vast but our spirit is too. So much untapped information out there waiting to be discovered.
(the picture was taken in the North Carolina but it triggered a memory from Norway)