Embodied memories

I am reading an essay by Hayden Lorimer, a cultural geographer based in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow.   Lorimer is also a regular runner and in this essay, he is writing about his bodily knowledge of different terrains accumulated over the years as a result of many runs.  When he is in Glasgow he runs and whenever he goes away he runs (business or holiday) – wherever he happens to be, he goes out running to get to know the place or, if home, to reacquaint himself with a familiar area.

He writes about running on different surfaces and how his bodily memory acts as a catalogue for a rich variety of surfaces and slopes, feelings and sensations.  As he states: “… it is in our bodies that we live out our lives”.  I respond to this understanding as I know from my own experience just how powerful body memories can be – whether they be pleasant or rather less so, whether they make me smile, wonder, fearful or tearful.

Running or walking can tell us much … both in the moment and through the raft of memories they evoke.  Vivid memories of other places and other people, other situations and other times all flicking through the here and now.  Memories that are stored in our bodies and involuntarily recalled as we run or walk.  And more specifically in this project, as we take a walk with others slowly through an environment – sharing the experience but each recalling different memories, feeling different emotions, depending on how our lives have been lived out so far.

A thoughtful and beautifully written essay by Lorimer that resonates in every bone of my body … that reminds me and simultaneously makes me think again.


Ref: Hayden Lorimer in Jones & Garde-Hansen (Eds), Geography and Memory (Palgrave Macmillan 2012)


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