You have at least four years coming up that are going to be ripe with opportunity, especially the chance to make some lasting memories. You’re going to want to document it all, capturing these moments and saving them in a jar for later enjoyment. But you’re also going to want to make the most of your time, living in the moment and taking it all in. Unfortunately, it may seem like an impossible balance to strike. Every second you spend taking pictures or writing stuff down or posting on social networks is a minute that could have been spent with memorable people doing memorable things.
One of my greatest fears is and always has been letting memories of people, places, and events escape the grips of my conscious recollection. Yet, I can’t stand taking time out from a party to take a picture; and despite how much time I spend on Twitter and Tumblr, I loathe the whole concept of social networking. Fortunately, and quite coincidentally with the help of my AP Psychology material last spring, I realized I had been documenting every little intricacy of my life for a few years already. It’s the magic of association that had literally been helping to create an enormous storage room in my brain. Music and memories, playlists and people, songs and stories – all had been carefully sorting themselves out into a vast library with everything I’d love and hate to remember.
The power of music-memory has long been explored in the psychological realm. By now, it’s a studied fact; and the basic science behind the phenomenon is pretty simple. Good music, catchy music, and emotional music naturally make your neurons fire like crazy. Recently reviewed by music critic, an event where elderly people were exposed to some old time favorite and surely enough, they got up and showed us they were alive! Memories are more easily made when hundreds of thousands of these neurons light up and go insane. So when a song you love is paired with a specific event or time of year or even your ever day life, a binding association between the two is almost undoubtedly created. Later in life, you can manipulate this association by playing back the songs that shaped your golden days (particularly your college years) and using them as a catalyst of sorts to jolt nostalgia, reminiscing, and a clean, pure memory.
Some may choose to leave this association up to chance, letting the radio and whatever is playing at the time to decide the ultimate extent of their memories. That’s not me. The trick lies in the two-week-long-playlist. Since the beginning of my junior year in high school, I’ve been creating a new playlist every other Sunday consisting of 10-15 songs each. During those two week periods, almost all I listen to are those 10-15 songs (and rest assured – I have great taste in music, if I do say so myself). Because the songs are always relevant to me and catchy to me, the bond created between the music and the memories is even greater. And because those 10-15 songs are so strongly associated with the two weeks I listen to them nonstop, the important things that occurred during those two weeks are practically burned into my brain. As soon as I go back and listen to a song from that particular week’s playlist, memories come flying back and nostalgia hits pretty hard.
Anyways, an ideal playlist will contain a broad mix of songs. You need to have those upbeat, happy-go-lucky tunes that never cease to brighten your mood. On the other side of things, you also need those dark, sincere ballads, and perhaps more importantly, those records that just make you sit and think about life. Here’s an example playlist of mine. (Also, this is a shameless plug to go listen to some of these songs because they’re awesome and worth me sharing with you).
- How To Fight Loneliness by Wilco
- Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa by Vampire Weekend
- Freak Scene by Dinosaur Jr.
- Cherry Wine by Nas & Amy Winehouse
- Rain King by Counting Crows
- Little Secrets by Passion Pit
- They Say by The Internet
- Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan
- I Wonder by Rodriguez
- Today Was A Good Day by Ice Cube
- Electric Feel by MGMT
- Mexico by James Taylor
- For the Love of You by The Isley Brothers
- Tell Me Why by Neil Young
- This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads
If you can spare five minutes every other week to put together a mix like this, then your ears will be extremely happy; and so will you fifty years from now when you’re sitting on your retirement porch replaying these playlists as you relive all of the greatest and most tragic moments of your life – with a newfound understanding of what it actually meant and an even greater appreciation for both the moments and the music.