Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Nostalgia by Nannette Croce

Why do we idealize the past? The English language even has a specific word for it, nostalgia. To the best of my knowledge there is no similar word for appreciating the present.

TV has long provided a vast wonderland for nostalgia. When I was very young shows like The Roaring Twenties and The Untouchables were popular. The big hit in the 70s was The Waltons, starting in The Great Depression and continuing through WWII. Later that decade it was Happy Days, looking back at the 50s. Then, in the 90s we had That 70s Show, a nostalgic look back at a decade of nostalgia for the 30s and 50s.

Whether culturally or individually, the lens of hindsight brings good memories to the forefront while bad memories fade or disappear. Weren’t the 20s a time of political corruption and psychological trauma from the The War to End All Wars? Wasn’t the Depression when ruined financiers launched themselves from windows and farms out west turned to dust? The 50s were “happy days” for white middle-class American males and their children. Women and minorities fared much worse. And the 70s brought us Watergate, the evacuation of Saigon, and the Iran hostage crisis.

Inherent in nostalgia, that yearning for the past, is the feeling that we didn’t appreciate it near enough. Given the chance for a do-over, we’d enjoy the good and not exaggerate the bad.

But we don’t get do-overs. To vary the song, the present is the "good old days" of the future. Take a moment to think what moments in the present you will feel nostalgia for in the in years to come, from globally to personally. What better way to feel gratitude for what you have right now.


Kathryn Magendie said...

Yes...the "do-over" is instead the "what will I do right now... to make a difference" !

Barbara Quinn said...

Living in the present moment is a key to good mental health.And it's hard to do. Let's get out there and live! And keep making those good memories.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I think about this a lot...and will my kids one day look back at these times as their "good old days?" I visualize them and their friends all decades from now, swaying and dancing to once popular rap songs, their pajama pants hanging off their cracks, and have a hard time imagining it. LOL

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