Nostalgia serves an important purpose: it’s good to be able to look back on a year and remember what made you happy, what you learned, and what frustrations you overcame. But this it typically pursued through clutter like collectibles or scrapbooks. These are not chic or exciting or even utilitarian. Scrapbooks take up space in your home and have invariably gauche aesthetics. Thankfully technology has made this task infinitely more pleasing.
All the pictures I want to remember are neatly organized on Instagram. There’s no need to clutter my closets with boxes of photos or waste time to cut out kitchy designs to organize a scrapbook. I can look back on my Tumblr history (or my Thought Catalog articles) if I want to know what I was thinking or going through at any particular moment in the past.
Then there is the overarching proper way to scrapbook: through music.
Every year you should add a playlist to your streaming service that you will fill up with 12 songs, one that represents each month. For instance, my 2015 looks like this:
Sometimes the songs I pick are literal, like when it was ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ for the month I signed my first writing contract. Sometimes the songs are visceral, the ones you play on repeat until it is dead to you because you like it so much or because it’s bringing you through some kind of catharsis. Sometimes the songs are more like a talisman, there was a spring where every month was Britney Spears because I was going through a dark time and I thought if everything I listened to was happy and frivolous my life would go back to being that way too.
This is clearly the superior way to organize your memories. Look at how clean and organized this looks in Spotify:
I see the song ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ placed 9th in 2009 and I remember playing it in my car as I picked up my boyfriend to confront him because our mutual friend told me he was cheating on me. I look at Jay-Z’s ‘Young Forever’ up a few months later and I remember I made that the song for that month because one morning my friend and I were laying in my other friend’s bed getting cookie crumbs everywhere and talking about all the people we met while we were out drinking the night before and someone just exclaimed “don’t you fucking love being young?” and it was the pure moment of complete gratitude for things being exactly as they should be.
I remember the month I met one of the most important people of my life because I know I was listening to ‘Bastards of Young’ in my old car when I did. I remember that they used to always play Lil Jon & LMFAO’s ‘Outta Your Mind’ every night at the end of the night at my favorite bar in 2011. This is what it should feel like to revisit a memory. It’s not something you look at, it’s something you feel.
Make a 2016 playlist in your streaming service. Let it sit there for a few weeks. When you start to feel out the vibe of your January, when you fall in love with a new song, when you’re nursing a breakup by playing JoJo’s ‘Leave’ on repeat — whatever — add it in the first slot. Lather, rinse, repeat and surprise yourself in ten years when you remember every single feeling you’ll feel this year.