You all must be familiar with nostalgia, the gentle yet restless feeling that slowly creeps up inside us like a tendril that bursts into an ever-burgeoning tree bearing fruits of extreme yearning towards bygone days, bygone places, bygone people, and bygone things. It feels like nothing could cure you of it unless you can be there in that place, with that person, in presence of those things. It’s subtle yet it overpowers us as if it were equipped with the prowess of a giant. Gently, it transports us to the flowery castle where everything was sunny and rosy, a happy rosy life, la vie en rose.
Nostalgia is a universal feeling and I am sure we all have felt this. It is a defining characteristic of a human condition, so primal and raw, so intricately laced with our very being it is very natural to feel nostalgic.
I think I was an extremely nostalgic person. Whenever it seized me I could not even function properly. I could be doing nothing, daydreaming, looking at old photographs, walking to the grocery store, reading books, staring at the ceiling while laying on my bed, talking to friends, anything and it would just come knocking at my door like an uninvited yet frequent, charming guest. I was enthralled. I embraced it like a koala would embrace the stem of a eucalyptus tree and it showed me make-believe heaven from its lofty branches. I was addicted.
But too much of anything is bad and I was long past the line that separated not much and too much. Even if it is natural, the obsessive clinging onto the past and not dealing with the present like one should is an unhealthy trait. Nostalgia will turn into just another escape, just another distraction swaying you further from the clutches of the present. The time you spend weaving the tapestry of nostalgia, the present unspools itself into a mess and you get caught in the tangles and knots of your own making.
Nostalgia forces us to hang on to the idealized version of the past. It romanticizes the past moments, exaggerates the memories, and reinforces our yearning for the return. It is a yearning for a return to the un-returnable. It makes you want to lift yourself off the floor and toss yourself somewhere back in time, wherever the heart longs to be. It masks the grey clouds and storms that must have streaked the sky in past and replaces it with visions of rainbows and sun. It’s as if viewing life through a pair of rose-tinted glasses.
The more I jostled with it, the more invincible it grew. No matter how much I tried I could never win against it, it was like an ant confronting the mountain. So I did the next sensible thing I could think of, I made peace with it. It taught me futility and humility. These days I let it run its course. It comes as it always does but I do not resist it nor try to suppress it, I let it run its course and go back on its way. So in a way, It can be said that I won.
The overindulgence of the past may be a bad thing but the past is what imbues meaning into our present. So learn to harness the power of nostalgia, let it run unbound but learn to rein it and learn from it.