We love to reminisce about the past as a species, don’t we? Thinking of better days, whether it was when we were younger and more naïve (a preferred state of living for some but I can’t necessarily relate) or when we had fewer responsibilities on our shoulders and more time to play with. It’s probably one of many things that distinguishes us from animals since – well as far as we know anyway – they don’t come back from hunting sessions and think to themselves ‘remember the days when there wasn’t climate change…’. Or maybe they do, who knows. They do say an elephant never forgets but do they just have impressive memories or do they interact with their memories like we do and experience feelings such as nostalgia and sadness as a reaction? One for any scientist readers to answer if you know! (😉)
Anyway, back out from that rabbit hole of a tangent. I’m very prone to nostalgia these days. Goodness me, all it takes is a good 00s or 90s Spotify playlist (think Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliott and Mario or Sugababes and Misteeq) to take me back and create feelings of happiness. For many of us, it can be a coping mechanism, particularly to deal with the harsh realities of the present. In fact, you see many businesses and industries even capitalising on nostalgia and its power to make money. Think of all the reboots and remakes of old TV shows gracing our screens over the last few years, for example (Fuller House, Raven’s House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot) which rely on the nostalgic, now adult audiences that grew up with these shows for their successes. And as I said, nostalgia is powerful, people will definitely fork out a decent amount of money just to feel it and dwell in happy parts of the past for a period of time.
Nostalgia is one hell of a drug, as they say. And like all drugs, it can be dangerous too. Because, let’s face it, it doesn’t really have much use after a while. There’s a brief hit of euphoria and then, bam – it’s gone. You eventually have to jump of the cloud high it produces and feel the damp earth of reality under your feet again. Secondly, the passing of time doesn’t change actual facts. Our memory can sometimes distort how we experienced certain events – it’s the effect of ‘rose colour glasses’. That is, thinking everything in the past was a ‘better time’ when in fact, if factually compared – you are definitely in that ‘better time’ now! I for example, have many fond childhood memories but I remember youth – particularly around teenage years being plagued with a feeling of powerless and just wanting to grow up already so legally and resource-wise I could do more. It doesn’t mean you can’t reminisce fondly every now and then (God knows I can’t stop you) but don’t get so lost in the haze that you start to lose appreciation for the present, because there is value in the now too!
Perhaps there’s something we can learn from animals, who I assume are more forward-looking if anything. Because we spend so much time looking back when in fact, the future is probably more exciting to ponder on. Yes, it’s unwritten and unknown so lowkey scary in many ways because only God knows what will happen but that’s also its beauty.
*Photo by lil artsy
What evokes feelings of nostalgia for you? Let me know in the comments 🙂