I recently came across a CD that I hadn't listened to in years. Once I tossed it into my car's CD player, I realized that it was filled with all kinds of songs that brought back memories of my first trip to Europe, way back in 1989. On that trip, I took along 1 cassette for my super-hip Walkman, and I practically wore out the tape by the end of the 2.5-week vacation.
But I also unknowingly engrained those songs with memories of Europe. As I listened to each track, my mind was filled with visual and emotional memories of a train between Brussels and Paris... a train station in Paris... walking around the streets of London... experience the Rhine River in Germany... all kinds of wonderful memories.
Last fall, I traveled to Greece with my mom and brother, and I intentionally listened to one album on my iPod repeatedly, in an attempt to re-create this experience.
It worked. Those songs now remind me of the great trip last year.
Our senses seem to be so closely linked to memory. When I smell cigarettes, I often think of smoke-filled sidewalks in Athens. Certain smells remind me of my childhood, including times with my grandparents or other family members. The feel of shag carpet reminds me of my paternal grandparents' floors. A humid evening will stir memories of Missouri or Alabama. Cool weather around Thanksgiving time reminds me of college trips during that holiday. The smells and sounds of Christmas evoke more memories than I can possibly record.
I wonder what senses in a year or five or ten will evoke memories of my life right now.