Nostalgia, my funny friend

Nostalgia visits me sometimes. More often than many, I would venture to guess. When it comes, it weighs like a heavy cloud on my chest, moist and full of emotion, threatening to burst, in streams down my cheeks.

Living in the past. Head stuck in the clouds, some would call it. And as I continue on this trip, the nostalgia reel collects quickly.

New friends made, bonded deeply in 10 days. Laughter so effusive, I wonder why it can’t always be this way. And then, the person is gone. Flown back to their home, a tender memory quickly hardening into supple stone.

“Nostalgia can pull our past forward into the present”. A tool, theorizes Clay Routledge. Not all honey soaked memories, all the bitter made sticky sweet, but a way to orient ourselves towards the future – a resource for optimism.

And he’s right, it’s not all bad, it’s beautiful, in fact. But there is a certain awareness that comes with the nostalgia. A pain, like the deep pinch of a shot that I know does me good but still leaves my arm sore all day. That time is running through my fingers like sand in an hourglass. That, like that comparison, I’m not the only one who has been here before, saying these things. That, for, presumably, time immemorial, we humans only feel our mortality when we get far enough away to look back.

Maybe it’s a way to make the now more precious. A reminder to do our best to soak it all up while we can. Memories embodied in crystalline emotions that take up space in order to be felt, in order for us to keep feeling. To keep moving ahead because one) what choice do we have? and two) when we can remember our past, rose-tinted, we can cry for its death but also look forward to the potential of more beauty to come.

“Nostalgia seems to orient people towards the future,” Clay said. The line in the podcast that stuck out for me, made me pause to type it down. A psychologist attempting to break down the complexity of an emotion we all experience, an emotion he said was first classified as a disease in the 17th century, when the sound of cowbells beckoned Swiss soldiers fighting in the plains of Europe, home.

A disease may sound a little extreme in our modern context. But a dis-ease it is, a discomfort that nettles and nudges us to perk up to what’s right in front of our face or rolling by outside our bus window. A reminder that all we have exists in the intangible moments we are constantly chasing and the ones whose sweetness lingers long after their taste.

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  1. Tea November 17, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Beautiful song and so on a point! I can relate so much!
    Especially loved that part :)
    ‘Maybe it’s a way to make the now more precious.
    A reminder to do our best to soak it all up while we can.’

    1. November 21, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you! <3 I'm so glad it resonated with you!


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