Graphic by M. Shanmuga

A photo album is a goldmine of memories. From the first step we take to our graduation, every small or big achievement and even moments where we share a tear or smile together is treasured. Every fleeting moment becomes a memory for tomorrow. Now be it a happy one or sad one, every second we spend today will become things we miss tomorrow. Time has its own tangled way, don’t you think? I read this amazing quote on Pinterest, “The moment you start thinking of the beginning it’s the end.” Whenever I’m asked to summarise a great day, I always copy paste this!

I still remember the first time I was selected for this youth summit by my school. I was nervous, scared and a bit excited. Only 5 of my friends, with some seniors and juniors were selected for this 3-day event. We had our doubts but anywhere with friends feels like heaven, right? So, we all gave in for this disaster cum opportunity that came to us. It was 5 in the morning when we had our roll call on the bus. 5 am! All of us were cursing underneath our breath. “It better be great”, whispered some of the students on the bus. At that time, we were all in 10th grade so anywhere that was not my school or class made me happy. I am not particularly a morning person but seeing empty highways and the sun rising has always made me fall in love with the morning.

Our venue from our school was almost 2 hours away. Some slept, some ate, my friends and I jammed to music in the back like cool kids while some read books. We reached our hotel by 7 am and were joined by many other kids. By 8 am, It was crowded, the music got louder, and we could smell the breakfast buffet better. As the crowd got bigger, we got more and more anxious. “Why are we here?”, “Ugh! It’s such a waste of time” were a few sentences I remember saying to my friend. We didn’t want to associate with others so we just took one corner hoping to camouflage. But just then a few girls senior to us showed up and initiated a conversation. I’ll be honest, I was glad they started a conversation but they had too much energy in them for 8 am. We exchanged hellos and went back to our place.

After breakfast, everyone was called into a big hall and was divided into groups. I was in a group of unknown people for the next 3 days. The event started and we had some of the most amazing motivational speakers from around the globe, yet I couldn’t find any amazement. By lunch time we were already weary. And the idea of going home was still on the table. The event was till 6 pm. And I finally started to enjoy it by 4.30 pm. The bus back home was quiet, yet like morning; some slept, ate, or read and we at the back, jammed to music.
The next day was brighter, each of us somehow made new friends and had new plans for the day. I made a lot of friends, cried, spoke and was even chosen as the leader for my team. It was an amazing feeling to stand on the stage and have all my teammates cheer for me. We had our own team slogans and I remember I lost my voice that day with all the shouting! I never thought I’d be speaking, dancing and singing in front of so many people, but that day I unlocked a new potential in me. I let go of my fears and became more confident.
Even today when I sometimes feel demotivated, I think of that exact moment to gain focus. That day we went home by 11 pm, ate a burger at a highway McDonalds outlet and danced in the bus. I remember sleeping just 3 hours that night because I was so excited for the last day. The next day came flying by. We reached our venue, sat with our now, not-so-unknown-friends and clicked a ton of photos that I still have framed and kept near my bed. Those photos remind me of good times, good people and good food! Photos often become our main source of reliving an event or a memory. They take us back to our past self and remind us of who we are and how far we have come. The only way we know how we looked as a kid or what we wore at our 1st birthday party is because of photos.
And so our journey back home was filled with stories rather than fear. Our sentences began with ‘remember when…’ and ended with smiles and laughs. Suddenly the moments we feared became moments we remembered. The unknown people that we judged once became an integral part of our lives. The day felt shorter, and we envied time for passing so quickly. The journey back home felt so good as if returning from one home to another. The loud music from the back, the kids dancing and a few uncles yelling at us from the streets made the mood much brighter. I usually get motion sickness but that day I even forgot to get sick!

A new memory was added to our collection. And I often visit it to remind myself of the fun and fulfilling times I experienced. This is the beautiful thing about memories. We never know what the next addition to our collection could be. So we need to live every moment with excitement, joy, and curiosity and capture them in photos to relive them and not forget the good times!

Sometimes our memories make us miss our past and we get stuck in a loop of the gone and the coming days. And when I feel stuck in the loop, I remember this line that I read which I know will stay with me for a long time, “People’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive.”
I hope your memories make you feel lively and excited for what the future has in store for you.

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