Inspired by my own tendencies to gravitate towards fond memories and a blog post from Raptitude.com, I’ve decided to tackle this issue.
Nostalgia is something that I feel very often. I realized it first when I was around 13 years old. It was about the time when I was beginning to become conscious about the fact that I was dramatically different from most of my peers. I had moved to the U.S. four years earlier but never felt like I could be a part of the culture. I started to become nostalgic about what I thought was a society where I fit in in a more definite way – the USSR. In a lot of ways, this is absurd. As a 9 year old, I was hardly aware of how the country ran and yet to me it seemed like this was the way life should be lived. I was conscious of the way that I rejected U.S. materialism and attached my values to a political ideology which seemed to express that. At 29, I understand that I would not be happy living in Soviet Ukraine, but to date it’s hard for me to kick the idea that it was somehow more pure or better than Ukraine or the USA now. The nostalgia just won’t go away, despite logic.
Fast forward to my ongoing divorce and I see a similar situation. My relationship with my wife is to me something that I look at fondly now that it’s over. I forget about the fact that it was something that I chose to end (actually it was mutual, but it’s nevertheless a choice I made). Or at least I forget the reasons for the decision and begin to gravitate towards making that same mistake. It so tempting to make a change and not want to follow through with it. Or to make a change and only look at one side of the issue – the one you want to see.
Nostalgia is only the half of it though. We often say “you can’t live in the past” and it’s just as true for reliving both good and bad. We want to think our successes are permanent and be afraid of repeating failure. The past haunts us whether it’s good or bad, but either way it’s the past. The best you can do is to try to repeat your successes and avoid your failures. The past is certainly a part of that learning experience, but it’s not the experience itself.
And so, this is why I have to tell myself to stop being nostalgic about things. It’s the past. It’s the realm we get obsessed with when we’re not facing forward. Hopefully, we have learned from it but it’s gone. All that’s left is this moment right now and the moment immediately after it. That’s the moment we want to live in and I want to put myself in the best possible position to do it.