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Musings - Mind Palace? more like... Mind Cave?

Sherlock introduced the concept of mind palace to me. Sounded fancy.

The gist of it-you use a place or location you know well to help you remember things. The more number of things you want to remember, the larger the place you’re using should be.

Well, I’ve been walking for almost 24 years now on my two legs. And I have a special ability to stumble and fall in every possible place. I even broke my big toe, two years ago, while walking down just three stairs. Mental navigation could be better, um?

Oh also, my sense of direction is abysmal. When I’m going somewhere new alone, relying on Google Maps, I actually feel SO proud when I reach the destination. Considering that I have, more than once, walked AWAY from a destination instead of using the map to get towards it.

So you’re telling me, I need to use my sense of direction AND navigate through a place MENTALLY.

Umm, uh, no? More like, uh, LOL.

A walk down memory lane sounds good, but a literal walk down this kind of a memory palace seems impossible. Mostly ’cause, organising this big scatter of my brain into something well arranged, something I am completely aware of, and something I can easily navigate through to recollect something, is too good to be true.

When I think of my mind, I think it’s something like walking barefoot in a cave.

Uneven flooring, sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth.
Some parts are cold and damp, with a musty smell. Some parts are well lit with sunlight peeking in.

Some parts are full of intricate rock patterns, some beautifully covered in moss. While others just have dirt collected over the years.

Many parts have changed shapes over the years due to continuous dripping water, either looking graceful and smooth or, weirdly out of place. And some parts, have been untouched for years.

In some corners of our minds, we’ll all find some formulas we crammed years ago, and never practically used. Some random facts. Some embarrassing memories (mostly from the teenage era, no doubt, no doubt). Some happy memories, like the sound of your parents laughing, maybe? (Or anyone laughing, for that matter, since life has become a universal monotonous daze now)

It’s all in there, you know? In this jumbled mess, all the little moments cluttered around.

We don’t seem to have much choice as to what we remember and what we forget. Nor do we have an organized filing cabinet or a folder structure to sort what we do remember. So, it’s a tangle of things sprawled around. Definitely nowhere close to a palace, neatly arranged and easily found when needed.

The well-lit parts of this mind-cave, most probably, you think of them often.
Maybe they were the best times of your life so far. You narrate those incidents when you meet someone new or you look at pictures to relive them.

The dark parts, not so much.

Until art, in some form of a song or a comic or a quote or a dialogue makes you remember it.

It takes you to those dark parts you hardly venture into.

Art, especially music, in my opinion, is some kind of a time travel agent for feelings. It cuts through all the entangled webs we’ve spun around ourselves and takes us to the silent parts of the cave. The dark shadowy corners which are actually not very far away from the sunlit parts, but feel so distant.

It is SO much easier to escape the dark parts, though. We are spoilt for choice with options to go from one distraction to another. I’ve (and haven’t we all) seen the Instagram “You’re All Caught Up” message more times than I’ve sat down to think about what I’ve shoved into nooks of my mind.

Binge-watching Friends (and being amazed at how adorably stupid Joey can be) is much more comfortable than looking into my mess of accumulated thoughts and unprocessed feelings.
Sometimes, yes, that comfort is all you need.

But some forms of art bring you back, face to face, with those dark corners of your mind cave. The lyrics of a song, the dialogues in a movie, lines from a book. All, nudging you to that part of the cave, those thoughts you avoid. Entering them may feel like a walk of shame, but art manages to make it feel like a walk of revelation.

Most importantly, the completely engrossing combination of background scores and words that get you thinking, just brings you to the edges of the dark parts, and you stand there and squint in the darkness for a moment.

Then the next line comes, the scene changes, and we go back to avoiding that feeling that was invoked.

Now, you don’t always have an option to pause to let something sink in.
To not just stand at the entrance but to wander about barefoot. Find something you tucked away long ago, in a cranny in the rocks. Touch the rough edges of those corners to get familiar with this unvisited space. It had its moment, and now it’s gone.

What do you do?
When something nudges you to those parts of your mind that you generally avoid wandering into and dwelling on.

I am not talking about going down the rabbit hole and fixating on the things we didn’t do, the ones we could have done differently, or how we should have chosen better. We have enough 2 am spirals down this road, I’m sure.

But when some form of art hits you, out of the blue, and makes you think or feel something you’ve buried, isn’t it such a precious feeling?
It makes me want to cling to that vibe for dear life, somehow. But, as most good things do, it starts trickling out and the moment’s gone, too soon.

What do you do next?

And if, like me, so far, you’ve not done anything as such at that time, are you feeling that moment enough?
When art, hits you.

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About the Author

Akhila Joshi

Akhila Joshi

Hey there :) Calling myself a writer seems a little too good to be true, so I just say: I write. I also like exploring new places and music when I'm not curled up reading a book or binge-watching.