Nostalgic moments can oversaturate memories to the point where it’s suffocating and inconveniently unavoidable. I’ve found in recent time that music in particular can reignite these fires from the past, but with any fire comes a smoke we can’t help but breathe in when there’s no other breathable option around us. This is basically how nostalgia works for me. Once I start think about it; I take it all in and can’t get rid of it for some time, often causing damage in the short (or long) term.

Thinking about my most recent trip to Japan (Northern Honshu taken from a moving Shinkansen, pictured above), there have been moments from that trip that I’ll never forget and are memories that are the best I could possibly wish for. However there are other memories that I can only describe on here as pain (or a suffering) that sticks around for a while.

When traveling to 青森 (Aomori), I met a man who told me (over a few drinks in a random bar) that he lost his whole family in what’s commonly referred to as 3/11; 東日本大震災 or the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011. This is a memory I have never forgotten. Although slightly intoxicated, I’ve never forgotten the resilience of this man who moved to the other side of the country to restart his life and his description of the experience living in 石巻市 (Ishinomaki) through the disaster, as well as the aftermath that followed. I could describe to you exactly what this man looked like, exactly where the bar is and exactly what the bar looked like inside. This is how vivid the memory is for me.

Such memories last far longer than others, but we don’t have a choice as to what sticks with us. All we can do is choose to experience as much as we choose to throughout our lives and only hope that through it all, in the end, we remember those moments that matter to us most, whether that smoke is an intoxicating fire or a calming incense scent. Nostalgia is unavoidable.

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