In wracking my brain for ideas on what to write for this column for commencement, memories of my high school graduation flooded into my mind, and I started to become nostalgic. Even after a year, it is still hard for me to fully grasp the fact that those four years of my life are over, and I can never go back. As a senior in high school, I unconsciously predicted that I would be feeling this way during my first year at Tufts, so I created four playlists of music, one for each of my years in high school. Each playlist included songs that were important to me at different parts of my life, songs that I associated with different events, and even songs that I simply enjoyed at different points in time. I didn’t know it at the time, but these playlists proved to be very emotionally transformative and were able to transport me back into my memories. In listening to these playlists today, they are able to evoke emotions in me, which I think is amazing. Music is incredibly powerful, and can act as a means to vividly connect us to our pasts through the awakening of previously dormant neural connections with just some simple sensory stimulation.
The amazing thing about music and nostalgia is that you never know how important a song will be to you until you hear it after a long time, and it takes you back to a specific moment or makes you feel things you haven’t felt in an equally long time. Now, if you were to listen to the songs that you frequently listened to during your first year at Tufts, your mind would likely flood with the memories of being a confused and awkward first-year and the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Songs that have recently been queued on your Spotify over and over again will forever remind you of this final semester at Tufts and your commencement.
The inevitable touching message is this: Nostalgia goes for actions as well. As you head out into the world, remember that some of your actions may not, initially, seem to be significant but that does not mean they never will be. Your actions will continue to impact yourself and others in ways that you never thought possible. Associations between actions and reactions, just like songs and memories, will form throughout your lives, and it is important to be reminded of them and celebrate their impact. Tufts Class of 2019, your time as undergraduates on this campus has come to an end. This is a hard reality to face, but I hope that you look back fondly on the years that you have spent here and recognize that you have accomplished amazing things, and will continue to do so. If you ever find yourself forgetting this, trust me, music will remind you.