It’s hard to look back on five weeks worth of experiences and memories without sounding trite or sappy. It’s obvious that these experiences will impact me as both a writer and a person. How could they not? What I’m more interested in is how these memories – both good and bad – will fair with time.
It’s remarkable how quickly an experience like this can fade when routine and “normal” life take over again. Luckily, we all have digital documents tracking our thoughts and feelings over the course of the last five weeks, but even that might fade into obscurity, as we neglect these blogs or ditch them altogether.
Maybe memories are meant to fade. I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. Every night at the Thessaloniki waterfront, every weekend spent furiously writing to deadline, every conversation – sober or otherwise – with a local will transform after enough time spent reflecting on this trip. Those memories will change to fit whatever narrative we choose to make out of this trip. That’s really what our past is: a collection of memories we’ve used to make a meaningful narrative, a story that gives us purpose, motivation and an emotional tether to hold onto.
I guess what I’m saying with all this amateur philosophizing is that I’m still trying to decide what narrative I’ll make out of my time in Greece. Clearly, I still have a lot of reflecting to do. The next few weeks will give me the chance to look back on everything I’ve done and not only reflect on it but reframe it in a way that makes sense.
That could mean “big events,” like our visit to the Acropolis or our journey up the city of Delphi, will fade away, while “small events,” like a beer shared with a game developer or the hunt for used tear gas grenades in Exarchia with Danny, cement themselves in my memory bank. It’s easy to lose those big, supposedly momentous experiences. It’s almost like they become a part of a story you’ve heard so many times that you lose track of the origin. My mind instead lingers on the small, mundane memories, the sparks of life that prevent those memories from becoming part of a static mental museum, or maybe mausoleum.
This is all part of a process. It may be hard to come down from an experience like this – returning to the bustling metropolis of Sharon, MA definitely requires an intense mental readjustment. But I think it will be good for me. Some time spent away from the noise and the constant human interaction will give me the alone time I’ve been craving this whole trip. Over the next couple of weeks, as I sink back into my routine, I just hope that I’m willing and able to make time for reflection and reframing.