Memories are made in hindsight

Memories are made in hindsight and memories pick themselves for us. We don't get to pick them. It's beautiful.

Memories are made in hindsight
Mere Mediterranean

We were going to Thandiani to stay in the Roomy Hotel on the day of 14th August. We includes, probably, eight of us fast and some not-so-fast friends. When you are a group of eight you can't be fast as a whole. This is true for friends as well as engineering teams.

At 6 AM in the morning, we were 1 hour from our destination and we realized the check-in won't start for another 8 hours. We have to waste time somehow. We did it by taking the Nathiagali-Abottabad road instead of staying on the motorway. We planned to have breakfast but played cards instead. No restaurant was open at that time. Halfway through that road, in upper Nathiagali during a mega restroom break, we realized none of us had made a reservation in Roomy. We called them and the guy said, "We are fully booked for the night". However, he insisted that I tell him about how I learned about his hotel. This is another pandemic that needs attention. Just like "inbox us for the price".

The road trip was wonderful despite, or probably, because of our minimal planning. During that trip, someone played Bikhra. I heard the song but wasn't particularly blown away by that. We continued on the road and it was played multiple times. Apparently, our shotgun liked the song.

The trip ended and one year later, whenever that song is played, I recall that road trip. Bikhra and Nathiagali's trip is now an associative memory. I have a few other similar memories. There is one which is not so pleasant. Once I put a favorite one as an alarm ringtone. I don't hate that song now but it reminds me of the struggles of waking up. Never do that to your favorite songs.

Whenever I listen to Bikhra or some other song tied with good memories it puts a smile on my face. I wanted to reproduce that feeling. Create more of such memories. Happiness or mood that I can summon on demand. Something like memories on-demand player. Looking at old photos does part of it. A song gives a different meaning and experience to memories. You are re-living your memory through an indirect auditory connection. Those are more abstract and give your brain more freedom to fill in the gaps. When the brain fills in the missing pieces it adds what it likes and many a time lies to you. Memories are deceiving but for all the right reasons. Photos are too narrow and converging. Just like a movie. A movie leaves little to your imagination while a book leaves a lot to your imagination.

Once I casually dissected why books are better than their film adaptations. I started in the morning, read The Fault in Our Stars cover to cover, watched the movie in the evening, and penned down my thoughts here. I feel that associative memories made because of pictures or videos are too concrete. Our brain needs space to fill in the gaps with what's beautiful to us. The songs hit the right nerve.

I was always fascinated by the Mediterranean lifestyle and to explore that we did a road trip along the Mediterranean coast. This time "we" includes me, my wife, and our 9 mo. During that trip, I tried to make more of such memories. Memories that I can summon on demand. I randomly selected some new songs, in fact, Spotify did that. Those songs I didn't like nor hated at first and listened to them on repeat.

While I was doing that and vacationing in general, I realized there was no happiness, no particular feeling attached at that time. I did the entire road trip but I felt I wasn't making enough memories. We had a cruise to different beaches and islands. That walk in one of the deepest canyons of Europe. Me dead-lifting ship anchors three times my size on the rooftop of a castle in Cesme. Seeing Ottoman cannons in real life that I had played with in Age of Empires 3. Our daily evening walk. Going from Airport to Istanbul, without navigation, driving a manual LHD for the first time.

Fast forward a month and now I see some memories were made. Some because of those songs and some because of other events. It makes me arrive at a few conclusions.

One that memories are made in hindsight and that memories pick themselves for us and we don't get to pick them. It's beautiful.

The part above this was written while on vacation. The part below is me reflecting back at it now.

Memories are actually made in hindsight and they pick us. I don't reminiscence about much of what I wrote initially. The boat trip, the canyon, the castle. I do remember the walk. Most of those are probably good for telling stories about the trip but they won't whisper out of thin air and leave a smile on my face.

What I remember is sitting on a bench for 3 hours and watching people go by minding their own business. I remember passing by and waving at our favorite restaurant's waiter when we didn't dine there. I remember waving at the ice cream shop owner whenever we went by his shop. I remember staring at the sun until it goes down. I remember walking into a Canadian on a hike who told us about an even more beautiful town further south where we ended up spending 18 days. I remember a little girl calling our 9 mo at the top of her voice saying, "BIBEK" (Means baby). I remember a roadside restaurant of a navy captain which served the most awesome fish I've ever had. I remember all the pets he had and so many of them. I remember the vibe of streets and cafes in Bolu more than the Istiklal street in Istanbul.

Memories select themselves for us. We can't select them or hold on to them. They cling to us. I think it's in the rituals, in human connection, in something unexpectedly surprising but ordinary. Extraordinary and adventure is for telling stories. Something a little out of the ordinary is for your own self.

As for the songs, I replayed one when I came back while driving in Lahore and it reminded me of our daily drive from the town center to our apartment in Fethiye. The signals, the turns of the road, each tied to a specific lyric from the song. Vivid as anything. Here's one which was played the most. It was pretty ordinary to me when I heard. It feels wonderful now.

Where our world falls to pieces
And the moonlight starts to hide
In a million little splinters
In the corners of our mind

Where endless colors
They are swallowed by the sun
In a trail full of echoes
Just before they had begun

And fountains full of flowers
On islands full of tears
Weeping willows and fireworks
Explode then disappear

You believe what you see
All the things that you know
But oh, you don't know
The depth of my soul

Karma's just a key
Unlocking every gate
Eyes are just mirrors
Putting us to our fate

The sound of hello
Like a light to the blind
Sending us on a spiral
Through a world of goodbyes

All the truth that we crave
Its our fruitless parade
In a circus of our shadows
Where we play our charades

You believe what you see
All the things that you know
But oh you don't know
The depth of my soul