I’m not the most nostalgic person. Or so I’ve always thought.
I don’t have keepsakes or buy myself souvenirs when I travel (though for others is a different story). I’ve enjoyed getting older and truly believe the best is yet to come. Yet, I also still have friends from childhood and revel in memories often.
Today I saw an old friend. I drove my niece and nephew to hang out with her and her kids. It’s actually been several years since we’ve really even hung out, yet, we picked up like we never skipped a beat.
We talked about the past – memories and nostalgia. We swapped stories of thens and nows, catching each other up on various things. Surprisingly unsurprised that our paths shared similarities even as time and space had separated us.
Despite everything, all the changes and differences we’ve undertaken, what we shared in the past was no more real than our connection now. The nostalgia was underwhelming because the present was fully enveloping.
So perhaps that’s it? I’ve never really felt nostalgic because I’ve never truly felt better about the past than I do the present. Granted, I’ve markedly and purposefully improved my life so there is some bias as well, but I find the possibility interesting enough to keep exploring.
Perhaps that’s also why tradition has never felt quite right to me either.
I’ve always wondered why just because something has been done, it should continue to be done. I was a terror at holidays, always refusing to participate in decorating or festivities because no one could tell me why we were doing them. The Christmas tree was the worst: “why are we killing a tree? Why do we bring it inside? Why are we decorating? Why does the whole family come over?”
Interestingly, once I could apply present purpose to the seasonal commotion I became a much jollier person. Paganism taught me about Yule and Saturnalia, and suddenly bringing greenery and raising the spirits of your loved ones through shared meals made sense. The ancient customs weren’t about religion as much as combating what we now call seasonal affective disorder. We celebrate to inspire joy, and that makes sense to me so I’m perfectly content now.
I missed my friend Heather. I could’ve talked myself out of reaching out to her, I have before, but I didn’t. I could’ve just been nostalgic, but I made my feelings something actionable instead. I’ve brought the past and the present together, creating more opportunities of the same in the future, and I’m grateful I did.
I don’t want to think about how things were or could have been, I want to create my bliss in every moment. Even if that means doing more about what I’m tempted to miss or iconify.