So I’ve been feeling nostalgic of late. Maybe it’s the changing of the weather, maybe it’s the never-ending-election/new president nonsense or maybe I’m just getting older and understand less and less of the new world which we seem to live in. Whatever it is, it’s got me longing for simpler things in a simpler time. Oh hey, maybe it’s this blog which a great deal of my focus is on another time and place!
Some of my nostalgia I know comes from longing for a time and place that really only exists in my mind. Our memories are tricky things and allow us to remember or misremember things in a different way than they actually happened. You know, like high school, which now seems like such a fun, carefree, innocent time and in reality was a brutal gauntlet of acne, bad hair, braces and mean girls. Or that one guy you thought you couldn’t live without because he was the most gorgeous, smartest, gifted and talented thing on the planet, when in reality he wasn’t and 30 years later at your high school reunion, you realize he’s just another paunchy middle aged guy like all the rest. Maybe it’s the holidays and you are feeling wistful about the Christmases you had as a kid. The fun, the anticipation, the ripping and tearing of presents, finally seeing if Santa got you that Red Rider BB gun (oh wait, not an actual memory)! Real Christmases were fraught with fighting, whining, complaining and tantrum throwing and that was just the adults!
I read this quote recently (can’t remember where, maybe FB) and at first the cynic in me thought, YES, that is so true but on further examination, feel like it could go either way. It says, “nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they seemed.” Perhaps nostalgia, if viewed properly and used to highlight the positive moments in life is not a ‘dirty liar’ but a tool to keep us grounded and grateful for all that we have.
If we view nostalgia as a negative, we tend to wallow in that ungrateful, unhappy pool of misery and we don’t grow, we don’t learn to be resilient, we stagnate. This is a hard lesson I’ve had to learn and maybe nostalgia can be a bad thing, even a dangerous thing because as I stated earlier, memories can be tricky if we’re not careful with them. I however, am trying very hard to look back at my past, not as something to be erased, not as something to wish I was reliving but as a way to mark my progress as an adult, as a way to chart my growth and as building blocks to a better me.