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Bormett's Vignette: Memory-filled playlists keep me grounded

Change is inevitable, but it can be difficult adjusting to new circumstances. As odd as it may sound, the biggest shift in my life lately is a sudden lack of change.

I am used to my busy life completely transforming every few months with a new college semester, seasonal internship or travel to another temporary home. This time around, I'm going on six months of living in the same place, keeping the same job and having a much less hectic schedule.

While it's certainly true that this change can feel like a welcome respite from my fast-paced college years, it also means I have more time to miss all of the people and places that I so quickly had to say goodbye to. Of course I still keep in touch as best I can, but it's not quite the same.

As I navigate this unexpected side-effect of staying put for once, I have found myself seeking comfort in music lately. This isn't new for me - I've always felt a strong emotional attachment to music, both when I listen and when I pick up an instrument to play it myself. It has always been a source of joy, stress relief, a way to process my feelings and a conduit that tethers me to important people, places and memories.

To that end, I've decided to start compiling playlists to listen to when I feel nostalgic or sense myself getting too distant from certain aspects of my life.

I actually started this when I spent a semester in Barcelona. I was thrilled with life abroad, but understandably had an occasional sense of being homesick. I asked my dad if he could send me a list of the best songs to play at top volume, since I knew he had definite opinions on the matter.

I grew up in a family that loves music and can attribute a large amount of my musical taste to my dad introducing me to his favorites. I would often come home on a Saturday afternoon and hear the bass thumping throughout the house before I even opened the door. I can still feel the energy in the car when one of these songs would come on the radio. We'd turn the volume up and my dad would drum on the steering wheel with the windows down.

Having these songs at the ready genuinely helped me feel like I had a bit of home with me. When I put on the playlist and crank up the volume, I feel those memories stick with me, and it cheers me up when I need it.

I've now started expanding my list of memory-filled playlists as a way to keep important things close to my heart. For instance, one playlist takes me back to a spontaneous beach trip with my friends. Another mix reminds me of my first time joining the staff of a church retreat. I even compiled the songs that I played on repeat the most as I made countless solo treks across Wyoming for a summer.

Besides serving as a soundtrack to events in my life, music is also something that I actively participate in. Playing multiple instruments, I have performed solo and in a variety of ensembles over the years. I have another set of playlists just for the pieces that I personally played.

I keep songs from every musical I was cast in, orchestral pieces from my years as a bassoonist and chord sheets from the worship band I joined in college. Now that I recently got a piano in my apartment, I can create the music while enjoying the memories.

Listening to music is often a passive activity, keeping something on in the background as I work or clean. It's nice to find ways to interact with music more directly and make it meaningful as I do.

Now, putting on a playlist isn't just a way to pass the time, but to enjoy that time. It helps me stay connected to important things in a soul-fulfilling way. It feels good to reintroduce being artistic again.