I just got back from a trip to Iceland. When I say I just got back, I mean I’ve been back in the U.S. for less than 72 hours. The post trip depression has hit me hard and going to work has been pretty difficult for me today.
I normally really enjoy my job. I design for the newspaper and occasionally take photos and write things every once in awhile. Music puts me in the best head space creatively, so I’ll throw on my headphones with a playlist of my favorite songs, crank up the volume and go to town on designing and creating things.
The music helps me escape to that part of my brain where I can just focus on Photoshop and InDesign, and occasionally a peak in a song I’m listening to sparks an idea for the page I’m working on.
I listen to music everywhere I go, always. I once told my husband that I have to have a soundtrack to my life. I have two pairs of headphones with me at all times just in case one happens to go out.
I have playlists for every single thing I do in my life, and they usually end up becoming days long playlists because I continually add new songs to them and don’t ever really take the old songs off. This leads to a bit of redundancy across my playlists.
Music is such a powerful thing. A strong connection to a place can be brought on simply by listening to the opening notes of songs. I’m immediately transported to mountains in Montana when I listen to songs that were frequently on my snowboarding playlist.
Some songs and locations have created such an emotional connection with me that I can’t listen to them any longer. Ellie Goulding’s song “Home” makes the nostalgia too strong, the want to go back to that place and time is too overwhelming. As I sit here at work, listening to my work playlist, I’m facing that challenge today.
MISSIO’s song “Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea” takes me to two weeks ago, driving through the fjords of Iceland from Reykjavik to Akureyri, my favorite town in the whole world. Foo Fighters’ “The Sky is a Neighborhood” transports me to Myvatn, where I was able to experience the Northern Lights how I always wanted to. Those few hours were legitimately some of the most awe-inspiring of my life, a point in time where something happened exactly how I hoped it would and it was magical.
Bastille’s “Bad Blood” was playing as my husband and I walked into the Lebowski Bar in Reykjavik and ordered White Russians during happy hour.
The song Fate and Destiny from the movie “Brave” was in my mind frequently during hikes, and of course a bit of the “Game of Thrones” soundtrack was present as well.
Overarching the entire trip was a song from my last visit to Iceland, “Rosemary” by the Deftones. I will never not associate that song with Iceland.
So why still listen to these songs if the memories are so emotional? Part of it is because the association can be so strong that I’ll instantly feel how I did in that particular moment, and that feeling is usually some form of happiness.
Part of it is because I created a personal, intimate memory for myself with these songs and being able to connect to something like that makes me feel so alive.
An association to a place can become so strong with sound. It doesn’t have to be music; it can be birds singing, wind rustling through grasses, waves crashing against rocks.
Memories have sounds that can often be stronger than the visual memories we create for ourselves.